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Why Your Therapy May Not Have Worked: The Importance of Evidence-Based Approaches

Many people try therapy and feel it hasn't worked for them, but the issue may lie in the type of therapy they received. It's possible they worked with therapists who, despite good intentions, lacked the proper training to be truly effective. Evidence-based therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) differ significantly from traditional talk therapy, which can sometimes devolve into what is known as the "befriending technique." This blog post explores these differences and explains why evidence-based therapies offer more lasting improvement.

The Pitfalls of Traditional Talk Therapy

Traditional talk therapy, often referred to as psychodynamic or psychoanalytic therapy, typically involves open-ended conversations about a person's feelings and experiences. While this can provide immediate emotional relief, it often lacks the structured techniques necessary for long-term improvement.

The Befriending Technique

The "befriending technique" is a common approach in talk therapy where the therapist provides empathetic listening and validation. Although this can make clients feel better in the moment, it does not address the underlying issues or teach clients practical skills to manage their problems. This method might improve mood temporarily but does not lead to lasting changes in mental health outcomes.

The Power of Evidence-Based Therapies

Evidence-based therapies like CBT and ACT are grounded in research and focus on teaching clients practical skills to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a structured, time-limited therapy that focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and behaviors. It teaches clients to develop healthier thinking patterns and coping strategies. Research has shown that CBT is highly effective in treating a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

ACT combines mindfulness and behavioral change strategies to help clients accept their thoughts and feelings rather than fighting them. It encourages individuals to commit to actions that align with their values, despite the presence of difficult emotions. Studies have demonstrated that ACT is effective for a range of issues, including chronic pain, anxiety, and depression.

Why Evidence-Based Therapies Work Better

  1. Structured Approach: Unlike traditional talk therapy, CBT and ACT provide a clear structure and specific goals, which help clients track their progress and stay motivated.

  2. Skill Development: These therapies teach practical skills that clients can use in their daily lives to manage symptoms and prevent relapse.

  3. Evidence-Based: Numerous studies support the effectiveness of CBT and ACT, showing that they lead to significant and lasting improvements in mental health.


While traditional talk therapy can provide immediate emotional relief, it often falls short in producing long-term change. Evidence-based therapies like CBT and ACT offer structured approaches that teach clients practical skills for managing their mental health. If you've tried therapy before and felt it didn't work, consider exploring evidence-based options for more effective and lasting results.

By choosing evidence-based therapies, you can experience significant improvements in your mental health and achieve lasting change. If you or someone you know is struggling, consider reaching out to a mental health professional trained in CBT or ACT.



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