Cognitive Sciences Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for practitioners, researchers, and students in cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In treating people with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy:

  • Which people can't be helped by therapy?

  • How are some people more treatable than others?

Additional Info

In the comments of a blog post analyzing male seducers, a psychotherapist explained the effect of narcissistic mothers on their sons. She said that some people have a greater capacity for benefiting from therapy than others. Some people can't be helped by therapy.

What makes a person unable to benefit from therapy?

share|improve this question
It's an interesting question, but you'll probably need to refine your scope: (a) what kind of therapy are you talking about? (b) what class of symptoms or disorders are you covering? – Jeromy Anglim Dec 7 '12 at 6:42
Some people can be stubborn and stick to noncompliance. If a patient isn't willing to "try" or "listen", therapy will not be beneficial... working with patients with BPD can be difficult (for example) but could you elaborate on what you mean by "more treatable"? I mean, you're right, CBT is not the befitting form/orientation of therapy for everyone, but do you want to focus on the mentioned narcissistic mothers? – PheonixEnder Dec 8 '12 at 4:59
So people really need to want therapy. They must feel like cooperating for the therapy to be successful. Yes, PheonixEnder. I'd like to focus on people with narcissistic mothers for this question. If you can provide any additional info on psychological mental illness, instances where illness is not caused by phisiology such as chemical imbalances in the brain but rather is the result of experience or destructive thinking, I'd love to hear it. In cases where the illness is "purely mental," what makes a person more, or less, treatable? We can focus on narcissistic mothers if that keeps the – Tyler Langan Dec 8 '12 at 5:07

Generally, therapy is more successful, the more resources a patient brings to the therapy.

For example, a generally healthy person will recover quickly from a flu, while an old person with fragile health may even die from it. The same goes for psychotherapy.

The more "functional" a person was before he or she developed a psychological disorder, the more friends they have, the more functional their family was when they were children, the better educated that person is, and so on – the more likely it is that this person's psychological health can be restored through treatment.

Moderators of therapy success are the same as for the absence of a disorder in the first place. That is, the more likely it is for someone to develop a disorder, the less likely it is that treatment will be successful.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.