How to Know if Progress Is Being Made During Therapy


Progress during psychotherapy may not always be linear. There may be highs and lows, as well as times when it feels as if nothing is changing. However, there are certain ways to determine if progress is being made during therapy.

  • Consider gained insights. Learning to identify and understand certain behaviors, emotions or reactions is a sign of progress in therapy. These insights help individuals understand themselves better, which provides positive steps in making desired changes.
  • Examine techniques learned and implemented. Understanding and enforcing approaches, such as thought reframing, relaxation methods, or coping strategies, is a sign of progress. Identifying and implementing the right tools and techniques has a large impact on mental health and well-being.
  • Record symptoms over time. Using a journal or other tool to track the frequency and severity of symptoms, such as depression or panic attacks, over time is a clear way to track progress. Although some days may be more difficult than others, a general downward trend in frequency and severity of symptoms is advancement.
  • Track the ability of performing daily functions. Symptoms may not appear to be decreasing. However, an increase in the ability to participate in daily functions, such as taking care of personal hygiene, attending work or school, or participating in social events, is a sign of growth.
  • Ask the therapist about personal progress. While each therapy experience is different, a therapist can provide insight on expected treatment progress. They are typically able to determine signs of progress that individuals do not recognize. Most times, the therapist also has assessments or tools used to track progress.

If an individual does not feel that they are making progress in therapy, they should discuss the topic with their therapist. They may experience better outcomes with a different type of therapy or with a different therapist.

Additional sources: Psychology Today and Psychology Today