Talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, counselling, or therapy is a communication-based method used by mental health professionals to communicate with their patients. The purpose of talk therapy is to assess, diagnose, and treat concerns related to emotions, thinking, and behaviour patterns. It is one of the most widely used types of therapy.
Types of talk therapy
Individual: This refers to one-on-one sessions between a single person and a counsellor.
Group therapy: this is a session with more than one person present. An example would be therapy sessions in alcohol rehabilitation facilities where a whole group sits with a single therapist in a joint session.
Marital or couples’ therapy: this is a session with a couple to help them deal with challenges in their marriage or relationship.
Family therapy: This is a session involving an entire family unit. A family usually attends a therapy session together when someone in the family is struggling with a mental issue or emotional problem and/or the family needs to work out some conflict.
Pros and cons of talk therapy
Pros of counselling
Someone to talk to
Finding someone to talk to is not nearly as easy as it seems. Talk therapy provides an opportunity to talk to someone you can trust, whose primary concern is to help you work out whatever issues you’re dealing with. This is borderline irresistible in this increasingly lonely world especially for people dealing with anxiety and those who are not comfortable talking to the people in their lives. For people who do not have a support system, the therapist fills that gap and for those who do, the therapist joins and strengthens their support group. Opening up also helps the patient feel lighter than they did when they had it all bottled up inside.
Studies have shown that when used in conjunction with medication, talk therapy is a highly effective treatment for disorders like depression. It is more effective than just medication alone. The reason is that medication alone does not get to the root cause of the matter. Mental Health: 7 Common Types Of Depression
One study found that a few therapy sessions can lower the risk of suicide for at-risk people. Another study with severe but non-chronic depression found that people who received both drug and talk therapy had better recovery rates than those who received only medication.
It helps to diagnose the actual problem and understand the underlying issue. Sometimes even the people themselves don’t really understand what’s happening or can’t articulate it until they go through talk therapy and are able to get to the root cause of the issues.
Therapy brings with it clarity and valuable insight about why things in your life are the way they are that would be otherwise difficult to come by. The first step when trying to solve a problem is understanding the problem better.
Talk therapy can help the person understand potential triggers and causes of mental distress. Once this is determined, the therapist can help the individual to develop coping mechanisms to help them overcome obstacles going forward. The therapist may also help the person improve skills such as communication skills, conflict resolution, and so on. This enhances self-awareness while improving their confidence, creating internal peace, and helping them make better choices.
Cons of counselling
Talk therapy is largely exclusionary and outside the financial access of most ordinary people. Therapy also takes time and is charged per session which contributes to the high cost. Then there’s poor access to mental health facilities and professionals especially in societies that do not value mental health.
Potential breach of privacy
Talking to anyone and revealing your innermost worries comes with the risk that they may divulge that information. Talk therapy involves revealing deep, sensitive issues that one almost certainly does not want to have broadcasted. The risk is higher with group therapy where another person can easily leak your story.
There have been reported instances of insensitive, critical, sexually exploitative therapists who exploit the vulnerabilities of their patients. Talk therapy, and marriage counselling, in particular, can often make people stay in terrible relationships that they would have left. The idea that any relationship can be fixed if only people work at them is false and keeps people trapped in bad relationships.
It is not a quick fix, it does not always work, and there are relationships, like abusive ones, that should just be allowed to die a natural death.
There’s also the risk of a vulnerable patient developing a severe attachment to their therapist which can be another source of pain.
It takes time for people to trust their therapist. It takes time for them to begin to open up, and it is an incredibly difficult and emotionally exhausting process. Talk therapy may take time before it starts revealing positive results which can cause people to give up on the process altogether. Counselling is also a continuous process that may be a difficult pill to swallow for someone desperate to quickly fix their problem.
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