In a now classic paper, Dr. Seligman (Seligman, 1995) reports on one of the biggest studies ever performed on the effectiveness of psychotherapy; the Consumer Reports study (November, 1995).
He summarized that:
"Averaged over all mental health professionals, of the 426 people who were feeling very poor when they began therapy, 87% were feeling very good, good, or at least so-so by the time of the survey." (Seligman, 1995.)
"Of the 786 people who were feeling fairly poor at the outset, 92% were feeling very good, good, or at least so-so by the time of the survey." (Seligman, 1995.)
"Long-term therapy produced more improvement than short-term therapy." (Seligman, 1995.)
"The advantages of long-term treatment by a mental health professional held not only for the specific problems that led to treatment, but for a variety of general functioning scores as well: ability to relate to others, coping with everyday stress, enjoying life more, personal growth and understanding, self-esteem and confidence." (Seligman, 1995.)
"Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) did especially well." (Seligman, 1995.) (NOTE: there is an english speaking chapter in town.)
"Active shoppers and active clients did better in treatment than passive recipients (determined by responses to "Was it mostly your idea to seek therapy? When choosing this therapist, did you discuss qualifications, therapist's experience, discuss frequency, duration, and cost, speak to someone who was treated by this therapist, check out other therapists? During therapy, did you try to be as open as possible, ask for explanation of diagnosis and unclear terms, do homework, not cancel sessions often, discuss negative feelings toward therapist?")." (Seligman, 1995.)
So, YES, Therapy works! 87 to 92% of those seeking treatment, improved significantly. Long term is better than short term, but short term works pretty well too. Furthermore, therapy works beyond the specific problems to include stress, life enjoyment, self-esteem, etc. And, finally, active participation in your therapy will yield better results.
Seligman, M. E. P. (1995). The effectiveness of psychotherapy: The Consumer Reports study. American Psychologist, 50, 965–974.
Consumer Reports. (1995, November). Mental health: Does therapy help? pp. 734-739.