What Is Therapy?

Therapy is a way to get help with a problem. If you go to therapy, you'll have meetings with a therapist to talk.

The therapist will ask questions and listen to you. This helps the therapist know what you need. Going to therapy helps people learn to cope better, communicate better, and do better.

This picture shows a teen talking to his mom with the caption, "Ask your mom or dad for support."

Your parent or doctor might suggest you go to a therapist if you're dealing with a problem. Or it might be your idea — you might be the one to ask your parent or doctor to find a therapist to talk with.

What Problems Do Therapists Help With?

Therapists are trained to help people with all kinds of problems.

Therapists help people going through tough times like:

  • family trouble
  • school problems
  • bullying
  • health problems

They help people with painful feelings like:

They help people with conditions like:

Why Do People Need Therapy?

People need therapy when they have problems they can't cope with alone. Therapy helps people talk about their feelings. It helps them work through problems and learn new skills. When they do this, they start to communicate better and do better.

People need therapy for different reasons. Some people need to ease depression or anxiety. Others need it to improve their attention, learning, and focus. Some people need help with anxiety, worry, or fear. Everyone deserves help to deal with problems.

How Does Therapy Work?

In therapy, people learn by talking and doing. A therapist will share activities and ideas to build the skills a person needs. People learn ways to solve their problems.

Therapy builds helpful thoughts and encourages healthy behaviors. Therapists help people feel encouraged as they learn. They help people see the good in themselves and find their strengths.

What Happens in Therapy?

At first, your therapist will talk with you, ask questions, and listen to learn more about you. This helps your therapist understand the problem. Together you will make goals for what you want help with.

In therapy sessions, you might:

  • Talk. Therapists have people talk about their feelings. Talking is a healthy way to express feelings. It helps people feel accepted, understood, and ready to learn.
  • Do activities. Therapists might teach lessons about emotions, coping skills, or facing fears. Activities and worksheets help make these lessons interesting.
  • Practice new skills. A therapist might teach skills like mindfulness and calm breathing. You might learn ways to face fears or lower stress. Or how to speak up for yourself. In your therapy meetings, you might practice the skills you learn.
  • Solve problems. Your therapist will ask how problems affect you at home and at school. You will talk together about how to solve these problems.

How Long Do People Do Therapy?

How long therapy lasts depends on your goals. Most of the time, a therapist will want to meet with you once a week for a few months.

How Can You Help Yourself?

If you're going to a therapist, here are ways to build on the work you will do:

  • Be ready to grow. Have a positive attitude. Believe in yourself. Tell yourself, "I can" instead of "I can't."
  • Ask parents, teachers, and friends for support. Let them help and show they care.
  • Work on your strengths. Spend time doing the things you are good at. This helps you build confidence.
  • Take care of your body. Exercise and eat healthy foods. Get enough sleep. Take time to relax. Be with people who bring out your best.
  • Take care of your mind. Learn mindful breathing to help you be calm and focused. The more you do this, the more it helps.
Back to Articles

Related Articles

Finding Low-Cost Mental Health Care

If you need mental health care but don't think you can afford it, you're not alone. Get tips on finding low-cost or free mental health care in this article for teens.

Read More

School Counselors

School counselors can give you all sorts of tips and support on solving problems and making good decisions. But how do you meet with a counselor and what is it like? Find out here.

Read More


Depression is very common. For more information about depression and feeling better, check out this article.

Read More

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a natural part of life, and most of us experience it from time to time. But for some people, anxiety can be extreme.

Read More

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorders are one of several medical conditions called depressive disorders that affect the way a person's brain functions. Find out more about bipolar disorder.

Read More


We all feel overwhelmed by difficult emotions or situations sometimes. Here are the warning signs of suicide and ways to get help.

Read More

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.