Why is talking therapy so therapeutic?
As humans we have a need to express ourselves, if we suppress our thoughts and feelings this can begin to manifest in a negative way. By allowing our feelings to fester we inevitably invite chaos upon ourselves. We become lost in a world of our own thoughts. This tends to be hard to navigate through. Therefore, when we begin to release our feelings by discussing our thoughts, we start to find a way out of this jungle. Through talking we can potentially learn more about ourselves – when verbalising our thoughts, often, we can realise that things may not be as bad as we have potentially believed them to be. In addition to this, we can also find solace in the solutions that others may have for our problems which could only come through in the form of discussion.
Talking therapy can work in a variety of ways: speaking through problems with a family member or friend, or even a professional therapist. Through this, one would be able to explore thoughts and feelings, identifying the effects they have on mood and behaviour. Healthy patterns can be enhanced, and unhealthy ones can be identified and adapted. It may also be referred to as counselling, psychotherapies or psychological therapies and treatments.
The idea of talking therapies emerged from the theories of Sigmund Freud. During the late 1800s Freud developed the psychoanalytical treatment, referred to as the talking cure. Freud’s idea was developed after discussion of the case of “Anna O” who was experiencing `hysteria’. It was soon realised that after revealing a variety of information, whilst hypnotised, her symptoms would begin to decrease. This, in turn, then influenced Freud to practice the talking cure with his own patients. He found that even without hypnosis his patients were able to talk to him and he could figure out which past traumas were causing their distress. Although at present talking therapies focus less on ideas which were more prominent in the past (e.g, dream interpretation), studies have shown that the practice is effective. This is mainly due to the focus on putting feelings into words. It was found that one major study produced a significant effect size (measure of treatment benefit) for psychotherapy showing the effectiveness that talking therapies have.
In talking therapy or in counselling, it is important for a ‘safe space’ to be cultivated. One should feel as though everything that they are saying will stay in the room, and also feel that they will not be judged. Through this, thoughts, feelings and trauma can be discussed in a protected, calm and supportive environment. The therapeutic alliance is an important aspect in counselling. This can be defined as ‘how you and a therapist connect, behave and engage with each other’. A good therapeutic relationship is extremely significant as it leads to a build-up of trust. In doing so you are able to completely be yourself around them and are able to develop better as a result of this. By having a therapeutic alliance, it can also teach what a trusting relationship is, how to share your innermost feelings with someone and experience the feeling of sharing things with someone who wants what’s best for you.
Through talking, our thoughts are pushed out of our head. They are not left to build up and we are able to free ourselves from these shackles. This in turn can help us to positively change our mood and behaviour, putting us one step closer to satisfaction.
Could you unburden by expressing yourself through talking?