What is talking therapy?
Talking therapies can help with a range of mental health problems. In the UK, these are available through the NHS or privately. There are different types of talking therapy and your GP should be able to advise or refer you for a consultation to find which would be best for you depending on your symptoms and needs.
Some therapies look at the causes of your problem; others take a more pro-active approach of helping you overcome the feelings you are experiencing right now. You may need different forms of talking therapy on your road to recovery. It is quite common to go through counselling or psychotherapy to delve into and deal with past emotions and trauma, this may then be followed by cognitive behavioural therapy that teaches you new, more effective ways of thinking and coping.
Even in more severe mental illness where medication is also used, talking therapies can prove to be effective in helping a person effectively deal with emotional distress and learn new effective coping strategies.
Types of talking therapy
Some therapies that may be considered are:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Counselling and psychotherapy
Counselling or psychotherapy are known as talking therapies as they involve one-to-one meetings (usually lasting 45 minutes to an hour) with another person during which you can talk about your difficulties. Talking therapies provide you with a supportive environment to discuss your issues. Your therapist will help you explore these issues, maybe helping you understand more clearly what is happening in your life and helping you come to decisions about what you might need to do.
Counsellors do not need to be as well qualified as psychologists, so do check credentials of a therapist and ask what kind of counselling they provide, some may only be qualified to listen and provide an arena for you to talk, were as more in depth psychotherapy with a qualifies psychologist will most likely be more pro-active and involve two way communicatin.
At the first session, your therapist will generally discuss your main issues with you and ask you what you want to use any sessions for. You are likely to also discuss how often you will meet and how long for. Some therapies are open-ended and some have a fixed duration. The session should be a two-way process: feel free to ask any questions about the therapy and your therapist. If you are not comfortable with them and do not feel you can work with them, say so.
Your therapist will be impartial and not part of your social network. They will have no view one way or another on what you should do. This impartiality can help you talk openly about your feelings and any struggles you might have. The process can help validate your feelings, thought and behaviours. Therapy is not passive; it is about engaging in a process of reflection and change. It can be unsettling and disturbing at times but, ultimately, it can be rewarding.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a talking therapy that isgoal-oriented. This means it focuses upon a pre-determined outcome that is systematically worked towards. It is a procedure that aims to solve dysfunctional emotions, behaviours and cognitions.
CBT includes a variety of approaches but commonly it will involve challenging problematic or unrealistic beliefs and behaviours by gradually facing activities, objects or situations that may have been avoided. CBT aims to teach the patient new ways of thinking and reacting, reduce fear and enforce positive, healthy ways of behaving.
Like CBT this aims to look at the causes of anxiety and helps you confront your fears in a progression, first in the mind, then in reality. Practicing relaxation and learning ways to reduce anxiety while these fears are faced step by step. This therapy encourages new ways of coping and new positive behaviours to replace the old coping strategies and avoidance.
Individual psychological therapies
Psychodynamic psychotherapy - this is a one-to-one therapy that helps the patient work through unhealthy emotions, any traumatic past experiences and helps them find unconscious sources of conflict in order to work through these to a positive outcome.
Psychodynamic counselling - is similar to psychodynamic psychotherapy with similar approaches, however this may be less intensive and may last for a shorter period of time.
See our counselling directory to find a therapist in your area.