Can Therapy Change Your Personality?

Enduring Changes in Personality May Happen Quicker Than You Think

Most people seeking therapy are struggling with a problem (or multiple problems) that they want to overcome. They rarely come to therapy stating, “I want to change my personality.” They want to keep the essence of who they are, but make the tweaks needed to achieve something they haven’t been able to achieve on their own.

So the idea of therapy changing one’s personality may sound unsettling. The good news, though, is that therapy may diminish unhealthy personality traits while increasing traits that improve overall wellness.

A recent study reported that psychotherapy reduces emotional instability, which is associated with poorer mental and physical health, and increase extroversion, which is associated with greater optimism and happiness.

Dr. Brent Roberts, lead author of a study recently published in Psychological Bulletin, stated that, “One of the most salient features of the results was the pervasive positive and reasonably large patterns of change that were found on personality trait measures.”

Even better news, these changes can occur after just a few weeks and for people across the life span. The study suggests that one can, in fact, teach the proverbial old dog some new tricks.

Dr. Roberts went on to state, “personality traits can and do change more quickly than commonly thought,” and there appears to be “plasticity of personality across the life course.”

Additionally, positive personality changes are not short-lived. Personality changes identified by the study were still present years after therapy was started.

A complete overhaul of one’s personality isn’t needed to improve one’s quality of life. Transformation in one or two domains, however, may go a long way in meaningful changes to life’s experiences…

Contact the Center for Mental Wellness if you believe you or a loved one may benefit from behavioral therapy. We can be reached at 858-350-4300 or

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