Talk Therapy: Benefits, How it Works, in R'ship with Anxiety, Depression & Pain

Jul 8, 20248 min
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Bhavya Malhotra
Psychologist | Mental Health Writer | Researcher
Talk Therapy - A group of people talking and helping each other

What is talk therapy?

All of us go through emotional distress and turmoil. While some of it can be managed on our own and with the help of our extensive network of support, sometimes life throws us a curveball, and talking to a professional helps.  Talk therapy, more commonly known as psychotherapy, is the process of availing sessions of 45 minutes to 1 hour with a qualified mental health professional who helps you work through your experiences. 

As a modality, talk therapy relies on spoken communication, i.e., an ability to express and understand oneself and others verbally and non-verbally.

One may think, “How is this different from talking to a friend”?

Psychotherapy or talk therapy provides a safe and nonjudgemental space facilitated by a trained mental health professional which provides us the opportunity to focus on ourselves and our needs in different situations. 

In the mental health field, talk therapy can help one work through goals, make sense of difficult experiences, and learn to manage mental health conditions such as clinical depression and anxiety. The overarching goal is to improve one’s mental health by exploring, thinking and reframing different thoughts, behaviours and emotions. 

One example of talk therapy you may have heard of is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT is one of the most common examples because it is studied extensively and has been proven to be most effective for helping with symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

What are the types of talk therapies?

Depending on a therapist’s training and modality of choice, you may be offered the following kinds of talk therapy:

1.Behavioural Therapy: 

Behavioural therapies often work with the behaviours that a person finds challenging. This could include both learning new behaviours to better one’s mental health or trying to change behaviours that impact one’s mental health. 

2.Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: 

Cognitive behavioural therapy works with thoughts, behaviours and emotions to draw patterns and challenge, modify or learn ways of thinking, feeling and behaving to improve mental health. 

3.Humanistic therapy: 

Humanistic therapists usually centre the client’s experiences and believe that a person is leaning towards growth and personal responsibility. It allows for the client’s worldview to enter and inform the therapy space. 

4.Psychodynamic Therapy:

In psychodynamic therapy, a large part of the work is geared toward one’s unconscious. The aim is to slowly gain insight into one’s inner drive such as motivation, and identify patterns related to the same - bring them to the conscious mind and work on the same in a way that improves one’s mental health. Psychodynamic therapists may refer this to as intrapsychic conflicts. 

5.Integrative Therapy: 

An integrative therapist may use techniques and tools from any other modalities to best suit the client’s needs. For example, after identifying unconscious thoughts, an integrative therapist may work with behavioural modification if that is suitable for the client. 

#3 Benefits of Talk Therapy

For a person who needs an outlet to express themselves, talk therapy has a lot  of benefits:

  1. Talk therapy allows you a space to freely talk about anything - some things are difficult to talk to loved ones, and a therapist serves as a stranger who you slowly build a relationship with based on trust and safety. 
  2. Talk therapy gives you the space to express yourself the way you want - whether it’s crying without being judged or even talking without being interrupted. 
  3. Talking therapies are also helpful when you need a space to feel understood when you’re going through an adverse life event or a challenge that seems overwhelming. While some of our friends with the best of their intentions try to fit into our boat, sometimes we want others to understand the uniqueness of a situation for ourselves.

How does talk therapy work and help in getting better?

Since talk therapies help one identify different thoughts, behaviours, feelings and even unconscious motivations, the process over time helps one develop better strategies to deal with situations which one felt daunting, improve relationships by seeing how you relate to your therapist, and even helps you make healthier choices for your life.

One might think of these and wonder, how successful talk therapy can be. Evidence suggests that psychotherapy such as CBT  is effective in helping with depressive disorders, and combined with pharmacotherapy (medications) is much more effective than medication alone. 

What to expect in talk therapy?

There are a few things that happen in talk therapy:

The work you do in a therapy session manifests over time. Depending on different modalities, you can expect talk therapy to last between a few months to years. 

For some people with chronic mental health concerns, long-term therapy is more helpful. 

There are certain advantages that you will notice in time:

  • Improved moods, helpful thoughts and new behaviours that aid the betterment of your life.
  • Ability to problem-solve in everyday life using new coping mechanisms 
  • Access safety and care outside of the therapeutic space by creating support systems, and self-care plans for assistance during difficult times 
  • The reflective process of therapy combined with building new strengths and plans stimulates and strengthens neural connections in the brain.

Drawbacks of Talk therapy

  • It can feel daunting to talk to a stranger about some of your concerns 
  • Since outcomes are not visible in the first session, for some people it can feel like a very time-consuming investment 

Considering some of these drawbacks there are other alternatives to talk therapy that utilize other ways of expression. These include:

  • Dance movement therapy 
  • Art therapy 
  • Mindfulness-Based therapies
  • Art therapy 

Talk therapy for different mental health concerns

Depending on different concerns, a therapist engages in talk therapy and related modalities based on concerns one presents.

These could differ with conditions, symptoms, and severity of the same. 

  1. For instance, for someone experiencing depression, the goals of talk therapy will focus on the improvement of depressive symptoms such as loss of interest in pleasurable activities, feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness, ideas of acts of harming oneself and disturbed sleep or changes in appetite. Psychotherapy is then used to improve overall functioning.
  2. When working with anxiety, talk therapies may utilise different approaches depending on the symptoms such as restlessness, increased heart palpitations, excessive worry, sweating and their severity or impairment to one’s life. Talk therapies like behavioural therapies are often used when working with specific phobias.
  3. Talk therapies also offer support for individuals experiencing chronic pains and difficulty in their management. The goals of pain management are often to reduce stress related to how one views the pain and feel one isn't alone in their journey. 


Talk therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Talk therapy or psychotherapy is an umbrella term for all therapies including CBT.

CBT is one of the talk therapies that works to address client concerns. 

Therapists engaging in talk therapy may use different approaches to help with client concerns, for example, working with behaviours, thoughts, emotions, specific client needs, supportive work or intrapsychic conflicts.

CBT works with thoughts, emotions and behaviours to collaboratively draw out patterns in clients that may be unhelpful and support in building new coping mechanisms or modifying behaviours.

What is the difference between talk therapy, Counselling, and psychotherapy?

You may have heard of terms like talk therapy, counselling and psychotherapy and wondered what’s the difference. Let’s take a quick glance:

1.Talk therapy 

Talk therapy is a broad term used to include all forms of therapy for mental health conditions. Any form of therapy which involves talking to a trained professional about your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. 

Scope: It is an umbrella term including counselling and psychotherapy. 

Goals: Cultivate a safe space for individuals to express themselves, make sense of their experiences and cope with difficult behaviours and feelings.

2.Counselling 

Counselling is a specific type of talk therapy that is problem-focused and strives to achieve specific goals within a certain amount of time. For example., career counselling.  

Scope: It deals with less severe mental health concerns, is short-term, and lasts from anywhere between 6 to 20 sessions.

Goals: Counselling often works with specific and tangible goals, and explores associated challenges, coping mechanisms and other factors that may contribute to the presenting concerns. 

3.Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is a non-directive, reflective, and long-term engagement focussed on increasing a patient’s capacity for self-reflection and making more authentic choices. i

Scope: It is a long-term engagement focussed on building and utilizing the client-therapist relationship to address the emotional and psychological concerns of the client. 

Goals: It helps by working on bringing self-awareness, and improving psychological and emotional well-being by exploring the client’s life history and personal associations to these concerns. 

Though this may give you the clarity on what you need when thinking of talk therapy, talking to complete stranger for the first time is still a daunting thought.

For the same reason, we at Mave Health have a vetted and trusted list of professionals on Therapy Club, India’s largest mental health platform.

Moreover, at Mave Health, we are working toward holistic health for all and have built a program for the same!Join our 12-week program that is clinically proven to deliver measurable and long-lasting results to care for your mental health. What does it include?

Using Mave’s tDCS technology 66% of users have reported a significant reduction in concerns of anxiety within the first 3 weeks of regular use. Considering it’s India’s first at-home neuro-therapy it is easy to fit in with your time and lifestyle!

Conclusion

Talk therapy refers to talking to a trained professional for different concerns. 

Depending on the concern and severity, one may find a counselling professional who works with the present and short-term goals and interventions, or a psychotherapist who works on psychological and emotional health for varying time period.

Talk therapy can be combined with other modalities, including Mave Health’s tDCS technology for improved brain and mental health outcomes.

References:

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  6. Cuijpers, P. (2019). Targets and outcomes of psychotherapies for mental disorders: an overview. World Psychiatry/World Psychiatry, 18(3), 276–285. 
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  8. Gangwani, P. (2024, June 22). 54321 Technique: How to use 5 4 3 2 1 anxiety grounding exercise [Step by Step guide]. MAVE HEALTH PRIVATE LIMITED
  9. Gautam, M., Tripathi, A., Deshmukh, D., & Gaur, M. (2020). Cognitive Behavioral therapy for depression. Indian Journal of Psychiatry/Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 62(8), 223. 
  10. Gelenberg, A. J., Freeman, M. P., Markowitz, J. C., Rosenbaum, J. F., Thase, M. E., Trivedi, M. H., WORK GROUP ON MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER, INDEPENDENT REVIEW PANEL, Reus, V. I., DePaulo, J. R., Fawcett, J. A., Schneck, C. D., Silbersweig, D. A., & Van Rhoads, R. S. (2010). PRACTICE GUIDELINE FOR THE Treatment of Patients with Major Depressive Disorder Third edition. American Psychiatric Association. 
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Author's Profile picture
Bhavya Malhotra
Psychologist | Mental Health Writer | Researcher
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