Talking Therapies: How Talk Therapy Can Help You In Treatment
By: Nicole Beasley
Updated June 02, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly L Brownridge , LPC, NCC, BCPC Counsel The Mind, LLC
Many different situations and environments can make people react in a negative way and in turn leave lasting, and at times damaging, effects. Mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and stress can have serious symptoms that, if left untreated, can have lasting consequences. An effective and non-invasive treatment for such disorders is psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, aims to lessen the effects of symptoms experienced by patients through talk therapy sessions where they can freely express their thoughts, feelings and experiences in a safe and productive atmosphere.
Talking about issues, feelings or thoughts that cause you great stress or discomfort can lead to a life for you where those things no longer control how you react. A patient, with a qualified talk therapist, chooses what to talk about in talk therapy. By doing this both the therapist and the patient can jointly work through specific traumas to overcome negative reactions, and to learn more appropriate behaviors for the future.
What is Talk Therapy?
Therapy is defined as "treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder". The talk therapy definition lies within the definition of psychotherapy, which is the process in which "psychologists apply scientifically validated procedures to help people develop healthier, more effective habits". By treating people with disorders such as depression and anxiety with talk therapy allows psychologists to collaboratively treat a patient.
There are several different approaches to talk therapy, including:
- Behavior therapy
- Cognitive therapy
- Humanistic therapy
- Integrative or holistic therapy
- Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapy
Behavior therapy is a type of talk therapy that involves focusing on learning the role you have when developing normal and abnormal behaviors. Classical conditioning, also known as associative learning, is practiced in behavior therapy. Desensitizing is a form of classical conditioning where a talk therapist may aid a patient with a specific phobia or fear through a repeated and regimented exposure to wherever the fear is derived from. Operant conditioning is another method of talk therapy that is a type of learning that relies on rewards and punishments to curb people's behaviors.
Cognitive therapy is a very effective form of talk therapy that is centered on the core belief that by changing one's thoughts one can change how they feel. By doing this, people are in control of their reactions, no matter the stimuli. Cognitive therapists believe that "dysfunctional thinking leads to dysfunctional emotions or behaviors". By changing this thinking, patients can change their emotions and behaviors.
Humanistic therapy is a form of talk therapy that emphasizes a patient's capacity to make rational decisions and progress and develop to their maximum potential. Other important themes of humanistic therapy are a concern for others and a sense of respect for all. The three types of humanistic therapy are client-centered therapy, gestalt therapy, and existential therapy.
This type of talk therapy looks to combine many different forms into one, an all-encompassing treatment plan. By using different methods and approaches therapists can tailor a treatment plan specifically for that patient. Any treatment plan should be discussed and implemented with a trained professional.
These approaches to talk therapy attempt to change troublesome behaviors, thoughts and feelings through self-discovery of unconscious meanings and motivations. More specifically psychoanalytic talk therapy treatment plans consist of a tight working relationship between the therapist and the patient. Through the therapeutic relationship, patients can discover who they truly are and what their intentions are. Psychoanalysis was famously designed by psychologist Sigmund Freud.
What Does Talk Therapy Treat?
Talk therapy treats a wide array of disorders including:
- Bipolar Disorder
Talk therapy has shown to be highly effective for treating disorders that have negative effects on people, and finding the appropriate therapist is the most important step. There are many different forms of talk therapy that focus on specific issues, so researching a therapist that is right for you is very important.
Finding the right talk therapist that can aid you in developing positive and effective thoughts, behaviors and feelings will lead to the alleviation of symptoms. With the correct mental health professional, a treatment plan (of either talk therapy, medication or a combination of the two) can be tailored to focus on the issues you need to address most in your life.
How Can Talk Therapy Help Me?
Talk therapy has proven to be extremely effective when treating a wide array of mental disorders. The benefits of talk therapy prove that through discussing and bettering one's life, alleviation from trauma can be reached.
Spanning into the Future
One benefit of talk therapy is its persistence over a long period of time. When you're in a talk therapy treatment plan, you aren't just addressing issues that are happening to you in real-time; you're also developing behavioral skills that will help you in future situations. The positive effects of talk therapy ripple far into the future.
A Social Awakening
Talk therapy is also beneficial when it comes to social interactions and relationships. Not only does talk therapy help you understand yourself better, but it also enables you to understand those around without immediately developing negative thoughts or behaviors. Removing the process of immediately attributing negative thoughts to those around you will inhibit those very thoughts from sticking inside your brain only to come back later to haunt you.
Don't Forget the Physical
It has been proven that severe psychological trauma can cause symptoms that manifest themselves in a physical form. In short, they cause pain to an individual experiencing them. Additionally, mental disorders such as depression and PTSD can have at times debilitating physical symptoms. By instigating a talk therapy plan these symptoms can also be alleviated.
Say Goodbye to Self-Medication
Talk therapy removes the urge or necessity for a patient to seek relief through unhealthy means or behaviors, like drug or alcohol abuse. The desire to look for alternative methods for release is quickly replaced with a healthy talk therapy treatment plan. Talk therapists teach patients new behaviors to lean on when dealing with difficult memories, feelings or thoughts.
Where Do I Find a Talk Therapist?
Talk therapists can be found both in person. When researching what therapist works best for you, be sure to keep in mind your disorder and what you want to take away from treatment. Talk therapy must center around your development when practicing new behaviors or thought patterns when processing negative feelings or situations.
Seeking Talk Therapy In-Person
When looking for a therapist to speak to and see in person, there are some ways you can go about locating the right one for you.
- Talk to friends and family: Asking those that are close to you is a great tool when trying to pin down the best therapist for you. Many people suffer from mental disorders such as anxiety or depression, so if you are comfortable asking people who care about you is a great place to start.
- Consider gender: The gender of your talk therapist is a small, yet important detail when looking for the appropriate one. Therapy involves being comfortable sharing intimate details about yourself, and gender can affect how you articulate those thoughts and feelings.
- Look at their photo and call them: Starting a communitive relationship with potential talk therapists can allow you to get comfortable with potential candidates while also making sure you "gel" with how they conduct their therapy. How someone looks, or how someone sounds or speaks can indicate a lot about who they are, and more importantly who they will be when they treat you.
- Theoretical orientation: This aspect for looking for the correct talk therapist is the most important as it asks you to figure out where you think your issues stem from and which method of talk therapy you should try. If you think you have unconscious motivation for your behavior, you should seek a specialist that works with psychodynamic therapy, for example.
Talking to a Therapist Online
Nowadays everything can be done on the internet: grocery shopping, purchasing exotic fish for your saltwater aquarium and online therapy. On the internet, you can find and talk to a therapist online, where your sessions, treatment, and recovery are all handled from your home computer.
Being able to talk to a therapist online offers those that are unable to physically visit a talk therapist or unwilling to commit to face-to-face treatment just yet access the professionals they need to work through their issues online. Online therapy has many benefits including affordability, a wide array of choices and a no geographical limit. If you discover an online therapist that works best for you, you'll never have to worry about relocation when speaking to your therapist.
Today websites, such as betterhelp.com, are designed to offer you a vast array of online mental health care therapists for you to choose from. There is so much information located online that seeking talk therapy treatments at home by using your computer will soon replace office visits.
Recovery with Talk Therapy
Although the positive effects of talk therapy can be long-lasting, completing the required amount of sessions is integral for lasting recovery. Without hard work and dedication symptoms of debilitating mental disorders will persist. Through effective treatment plans utilizing talk therapy these symptoms can be alleviated. With different methods of talk therapy focusing on specific behaviors, thoughts and feelings, talk therapy treatment can either enhance or replace any medicated treatment plan, even while talking to an online therapist from you home.