Millions of Americans are in talk therapy. But does it work? That’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer.

Talk therapy offers great benefits for some people, but not for everyone, so it may not work for you, my colleague Susan Dominus wrote for The New York Times Magazine’s Therapy Issuepublished this week.

Scientists were only able to come to that conclusion relatively recently. Since the days of Sigmund Freud, the field of psychotherapy has been resistant, even hostile, to evaluating its methods through empirical studies. “At my graduation from psychoanalytic training, a supervising analyst said to me, ‘Your analysis will cure you of the need to do research,'” Andrew Gerber, president of a psychiatric treatment center in Connecticut, told The Times.

That resistance has subsided in recent decades, leading to hundreds of clinical trials. The results have been mixed. Some studies have shown that therapy is more likely to help than not. Other research has shown more limited results, suggesting that therapy helps some patients but not many or even most.

Why? It probably depends on individual preference. A therapist or type of therapy that works for one person may not match someone else’s personality or issues. So a study looking at whether one type of therapy works is likely to produce limited results, regardless of how effective that therapy is for some individuals.

And for some, talk therapy may never be the right match over other types of help, like medication.

Some experts have drawn a disappointing conclusion. “Maybe we’ve reached the limit of what you can do by talking to someone,” said David Tolin, director of another treatment center in Connecticut. “Maybe it’s just going to be so good.” Others are now trying to harness the evidence to improve talk therapy and find ways to connect patients to the type of therapy that would work best for them.

Speaking to researcher Timothy Anderson, Susan expressed her own frustrations with the murky evidence:

Perhaps, as a long-term consumer of therapy in search of reassurance, I had reached my limit with disputes between the various clinics and researchers, caveats and debates about methodology. “The investigation seems very… baggy,” I said, not bothering to hide my frustration. “It’s not very satisfying.” I could almost hear a smile on the other end of the phone. “Well, thanks,” Anderson said. “That’s what makes this research so interesting. That there are no easy answers, right?”

Read Susan’s cover story here for more information about the evidence for different types of therapy and how therapists are trying to improve.

According to all the rules of art: Pulitzer Prize winner Hernan Diaz begins his write by reading.

Our Editors’ Choice: “The League of Waters,” which follows generations of a family in southwestern India, and eight other books.

Times bestseller: “A Day With No Words”, written by Tiffany Hammond and illustrated by Kate Cosgrove, is at the top of the children’s picture book list.

  • Greece holds elections today.

  • Two Republicans are expected to enter the presidential race this week: DeSantis and Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina.

  • A man photographed putting his boots on a desk in Nancy Pelosi’s office during the Jan. 6 attacks will be sentenced Wednesday.

  • A parliamentary subcommittee will hold a hearing on banking and regulatory failures on Wednesday.

  • Biden will deliver the commencement address at his alma mater, the University of Delaware, on Saturday.