What Is ‘Talking Therapy’And What Conditions Can It Treat?
The term ‘talking therapy’ refers not to one specific therapy but to a category of therapies. As the phrase strongly implies, ‘talking therapies’ involve a client talking to a therapist with the aim of ameliorating their particular psychological difficulty (e.g. depression, anger, addiction, eating disorders, phobias, childhood trauma, relationship problems and family problems). Studies show that in many cases ‘talking therapies’ can be at least as effective, and, frequently, more effective, than medications for the treatment of a wide range of psychological problems.
Examples Of ‘Talking Therapies’:
As stated above, there are a variety of ‘talking therapies’ from which to choose. These include the following :
- cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- psychodynamic psychotherapy
- behavioral activation
- mindfulness-based therapies
- family therapy
- interpersonal therapy
- dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
(NB The above list is not exhaustive).
Let’s briefly look at each of these eight examples of ‘talking therapy’ in turn :
Cognitive behavioral therapy :
This type of therapy is currently widely used to help individuals with psychological difficulties and is evidence-based (i.e. supported by empirical research findings). It is a short-term therapy within which the therapist and client work together to help the client identify dysfunctional behaviors and thinking processes that may be contributing to his/her problems and then to change these behaviors and thinking processes into more helpful ones.
To read my previously published article about how cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help those of us who have suffered childhood trauma, click here.
Counselling involves the client talking to a trained therapist about emotions and feelings ; the therapist will listen to the client in a non-judgmental and non-critical manner.
Usually, the therapist does not provide direct advice to the client but, instead, aims to facilitate the client’s insight into, and understanding of, his/her own thinking patterns and, also, to help him/her discover his/her own solutions to his/her problems.
Counselling has traditionally been a face-to-face activity but is now becoming increasingly available online.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy :
This type of therapy aims to discover, and make the client aware of, how his/her (previously) unconscious mental processes, strongly influenced by early life experiences, have, historically, adversely affected his/her behavior.
To read my previously published post about how psychodynamic psychotherapy can help those who have suffered childhood trauma and, as a result, gone on to develop borderline personality disorder (BPD), click here.
Behavioral activation :
This therapy is used for the treatment of depression and, encouragingly, has been found to have a good rate of success (even, more encouragingly still, in the case of those suffering from depression who have not responded well to other therapeutic interventions – i.e. those who were previously found to be ‘treatment resistant’).
It is often used in conjunction with CBT (see above) or other therapies and, in particular, can help clients who are isolated and ‘avoidant.‘
Mindfulness-based therapies :
Mindfulness-based therapies have the goal of helping the client to become aware of his/her feelings, thoughts and experiences in the present moment and to accept these, as a kind of disinterested observer, without judging them . Once the client, with practice, starts to master this skill (which takes time), s/he should experience significantly less distress, or, even, in the ideal case, serene equanimity, when unwanted thoughts and feelings arise in his/her mind.
Family therapy :
This therapy aims to resolve dysfunctional family dynamics, particularly by focusing upon how communication can be improved between family members and how conflicts can be overcome.
Interpersonal therapy :
This form of therapy aims to help individuals who have interpersonal problems (i.e. find it hard to form and maintain relationships with others). The effectiveness of this kind of therapy is supported by empirical evidence.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT):
This is an evidence-based therapy for the treatment of individuals who suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD). To read my previously published article about how DBT can help people with BPD, click here.