Health Therapy

Talk Therapy 101: How does it work?


I’m sure you have heard of the term therapy before. Therapy is a treatment intended to reduce, relieve, or heal an issue affecting an individual’s daily life. There are various forms of therapy so it is undoubtedly an umbrella term for several treatment plans. While the treatment plan may differ, the goal is to always modulate behaviour to achieve empowerment. In this article, we will discuss in detail a particular type of therapy called ‘talk therapy’.

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What is Talk Therapy?

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, refers to a method of modulating people’s behaviour, thoughts, emotions, and other factors that are causing distress in an individual’s life. It is always designed to achieve a desired goal that has been set by the client himself/herself. Psychotherapy takes place in a professional setup where the therapist has to be a licensed practitioner of psychotherapy. The therapist may use a single approach or an eclectic approach depending on the issue and specialization of the therapist. Although approaches can vary in terms of the techniques, almost all of them have a few checkpoints which are common for all therapeutic techniques. For example- case history taking, rapport building with the client, reducing resistance, and clear communication. But why do we need it?

Why do you need it?

It is evident that if a person considers therapy he/she might be having some difficulties functioning in their day to day tasks.

  • Having a psychological disorder: One must see a therapist when he/she is diagnosed with a psychological disorder. Therapy helps in overcoming the disorder and helps the person become fully functioning.
  • Elimination of symptoms and modification symptoms: When the symptoms are affecting one’s daily life and the person is not able to use his or her full potential we seek help from therapy. While some symptoms can be eliminated, some can be only reduced or controlled.
  • Modification of thoughts and beliefs: Thoughts and beliefs play a significant role in our daily lives. While they help us gain clarity about a certain behaviour, sometimes conflicting thoughts or beliefs can cause distress, indecisiveness, and anxiety. In therapy, we try to re-align thoughts and beliefs to gain clarity over one’s behaviour.
  • Modulate behaviour: Modulation of thoughts sometimes leads to a change of behaviour but in some cases, we need to modulate our behaviour separately to achieve our true potential.
  • Reduction of distress: distress is the main reason for us not being able to show our true potential and confidence. Reducing distress helps us perform better and work more effectively to show our true potential.
  • Realization of potential: realization of one’s true potential is needed for consistent development and growth of an individual.
  • Promotion of growth and development: Promoting growth and development-oriented ideas is essential for people to empower themselves and achieve their true potential.
  • Strengthen motivation and confidence: Motivation is needed to maintain our goal-directed behaviour till we get to our desired outcome. And therapy helps one set a goal and work consistently towards achieving it.

Read More: The Psychology Behind Growth and Development

What are the four types of talk therapy?

Therapy can be majorly divided into 4 types;

  1. Individual therapy: When a therapist works one-on-one with a single individual to help him/her achieve their goal(s).
  2. Couple therapy: When a therapist works with a couple to help them improve their communication and adjustment skills to help them achieve their relationship goal(s).
  3. Family therapy: When the therapist works with a family to help them achieve better communication, and clarity of roles and become a fully functioning family.
  4. Group therapy: Group therapy is where the therapist works with a group of people, sharing a common goal. Here the therapist works on their group cohesiveness, unity, and understanding of roles and responsibilities within the group to help them communicate well.

Read More: What is Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy ?

How Effective is Talk Therapy?

So far we have discussed the types of therapy and why one should go to see a therapist in the first place. But here comes another question, is it effective? Many people still consider talk therapy as talking to their friends and family. But that is not what it seems like. Talking to a friend might seem easier and more effective in the first place until you realize you are depending on the other person to come up with a solution to your problem. Talking to a friend or a family member can be described as a type of guidance and not therapy. Because guidance typically includes an experienced person suggesting, advising, or instructing an individual to help them out. Whereas in talk therapy a licensed practitioner will help you solve your issues by yourself through different therapeutic techniques and the added advantages will be,

  • He/she will remain non-judgemental,
  • They will not advise or suggest you, and
  • Therapy will provide you confidentiality which means the therapist won’t share your personal information with anyone else.

Now when it comes to being effective, According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), around 75% or 3 in 4 people who try talk therapy have received its benefits. It is particularly effective in treating issues like; depression, anxiety, eating disorders, sleep, anger management, fears and phobias, trauma, etc. In a study 2018, Early treatment with talk therapy or antidepressants in severely bereaved people and risk of suicidal behaviour and psychiatric illness: an instrumental variable analysis, shows that “early treatment with TT(talk therapy) is associated with reduced long-term risk of serious mental health conditions in severely bereaved people.” The benefits of talk therapy can be

  1. Self-discovery,
  2. Understanding and effectively dealing with one’s own emotions and thoughts,
  3. Improved social relations,
  4. Improved self-confidence,
  5. Better decision-making and problem-solving abilities.

Read More: 10 Ways to Build Self-Confidence

What are its potential drawbacks?

More or less it is one of the most effective methods but every method has its limitations in terms of effectiveness. As no two individuals are the same, not everyone will get the same effectiveness from a single method. The potential limitations could be;

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  • People might feel uncomfortable sharing their thoughts with a stranger. Many of us find it difficult to share our personal information with strangers while others enjoy the process. The skills of the therapist can control it as the rapport builds up.
  • Good things take time and so does therapy. There is a common idea about therapy, that one session can change an individual’s way of thinking. While this can be true for some individuals to some extent. But the purpose of therapy is not to change your thoughts in one go, as it might just fade away and cause more difficulties in the long run because now you have contrasting thoughts and beliefs.
  • Therapy won’t make you feel happy all the time. It is not just about making an individual happy. It will allow you to experience a range of emotions (and that is okay). No one experiences happiness all the time. It is the acceptance that will help you regulate emotions in a better way.
  • Therapy can be expensive at times.

How to find a therapist?

Finding a good therapist requires some amount of research. While everyone is doing their job with their highest potential and as long as they are licensed psychotherapists you are at the right place. But there are some qualities and skills that you might require for your particular problem from your therapist. For example, a therapist specializing in adolescent and child counselling can help you with problems in that specialized area in a much better way than others. To find good therapists you can search online, call your nearest clinic or hospital, or go for a recommendation from your family, friends, or neighbours. Things that you might need to consider while selecting a therapist,

  1. The person has to have skills and competencies
  2. Has to be a licensed therapist to perform therapy
  3. Has to have some amount of experience in the field
  4. Suits your requirements as a specialist
  5. Available to take calls and consultation

Therapy is a process, where the person seeking therapy has to reciprocate with the therapist and communicate with him/her about their issues. Consent is needed in the first place, the person has to be present all along the sessions. It won’t magically reduce pain, the individual has to work on the things outside the therapy session to incorporate it into their lives.

Read More: Let’s Talk about Laughter Therapy

References +
  4. This study suggests that the statistical precision was low.
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