What Makes Therapy Effective?


picture of measuring tape

Keys to Effective Therapy






* the above criteria is drawn from the work of therapy researcher Barry L. Duncan and colleagues based on research from hundreds of studies on therapy effectiveness. 

How good is therapy in general?

Despite bold claims about certain popular models of therapy the therapy effectiveness research suggests that there is no magic model of therapy that proves to be significantly better than the others in helping clients achieve desired outcomes.

The good news is that therapy as a whole is about four times more effective in reducing distress than toughing it out on one's own. In most cases therapy is more effective than medications and therapy is even better when looking at sustained and longer-term outcomes. 

How effective are most therapists?

Although therapy overall is effective there is a huge range in the effectiveness of specific therapists. According to therapy outcome researcher Barry L. Duncan, the least effective therapists help approximately 20% of their clients meet expected treatment outcomes while the most effective therapists help up to 70%. Therapist characteristics play a much bigger role in therapy effectiveness than does the specific model of therapy that is employed, regardless of whether the model is considered "evidence-based". 

How effective is Couple Therapy Toronto?

Based on a sample of over 65 clients and 350 sessions conducted by Couple Therapy Toronto therapists Nat Roman and Benjamin Gibson, using the same assessment tools recommended by therapy effectiveness researcher Barry L. Duncan (referenced below), 90.3% of Couple Therapy Toronto clients attained or exceeded expected treatment outcomes. 

The sample included adult and adolescent individual clients, couples and families, and included clients who had completed therapy as well as clients who were still attending regularly. The inclusion of clients who had yet to receive the full benefits of therapy means the percentages would likely have been even higher than 90.3% at completion.

The effect size, or the degree of change in client outcomes, was greater than that of therapy overall. This means that on average more of Couple Therapy Toronto clients benefited from therapy and to a greater degree than the clients of the "best" therapists reported in the therapy outcome research.

Click chart to expand

What sets Couple Therapy Toronto apart?

All of our therapists are relational therapists by training with graduate degrees in Couple and Family Therapy and clinical experience working with individual adults, children and adolescents, couples and families. As both individual psychotherapists and relational therapists we are attuned to the relational reality of our lives and our problems.

Even when addressing what we often think of as personal individual problems, like depression and anxiety, we know that relational issues are often at least contributing to these challenges, if not the original root cause (e.g. difficult family relationships, social anxiety, fear of rejection, loneliness, relational trauma, intimacy issues...). These personal problems are often considered problems in part because of how they impact our relationships or our hopes for relationships, and we often require the support of others to heal, grow and overcome their effects.

Whether seeking support for yourself or for your important relationships - we are here to help. 

Our commitment

Our commitment to our clients is that we strongly adhere to the principles that make therapy effective through collaborative goal setting and session-by-session monitoring of client progress and in-session experience. If at any point you are not happy with the results that you are experiencing, we will help you find a therapist who may be a better fit for you. Although we are a business, our first and foremost commitment is to client wellbeing.

Learn more about our therapists. Read articles about therapy, relationships, parenting, sex and mental health.

For more information on therapy and counselling for individual adultscouplesfamilies and kids & teens.