What is Talk Therapy?

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, one form of talk therapy.
Most people consider talk therapy to be the traditional approach to therapy.
Talk therapy may help couples with communication issues.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2014
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Talk therapy refers to a number of different kinds of psychotherapy where focus is principally on clients discussing problems and evolving solutions with a licensed therapist. The earliest forms of such therapy were psychoanalysis, practiced by medical doctors like Freud and Carl Jung. Gradually, other types of talk therapy became popular, including cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic, and humanist therapy. Today, psychiatrists and therapists may employ other methods of therapy that aren’t focused on talking. These include things like art therapy and dance therapy.

Most people, though, think of talk therapy as the traditional “counseling” approach. Patients see a therapist and discuss current or past issues. Just how much the therapist talks back may be indicated by their orientation with different schools of therapeutic thought. They may question, repeat back information, or confront (especially true of Gestalt therapists) if a client seems evasive. The varied forms of talk therapy consist of a therapist employing active listening and other techniques, and helping to move the client toward resolution of emotional issues.

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There’s a lot of discussion about why talk therapy would be more effective than just talking to friends or loved ones. After all, we often talk to friends and family all the time, and shouldn’t that be just as helpful? The standard answer to this is that chatting with friends and family can be helpful, but may ultimately not help a person in need of therapy all that much. First, friends and family aren’t typically trained in active listening techniques, and second, their deep and long-term relationships with you mean they have a definite slant when approaching your problems. A parent, for instance, may want justification for doing a good job raising you and won’t want to hear it if you criticize.

In general, people can talk, but most aren’t all that good at listening objectively and without prejudice. Moreover, talk therapy works best when a person can be completely honest about their feelings, which may be very private and/or painful and embarrassing. We tend to want to protect people we love, and so we may never be fully honest with them about all of our feelings. Therapy usually exists without this kind of judgment, and because it exists in a confidential manner, we don’t have to worry about sparing the therapist’s feelings or that talking to the therapist will mean our private secrets get repeated to the world. For most clients, it’s easier to be open with an impartial person, who is trained to listen and help a person move toward their goals.

For treatment of mental illnesses, a combination of medication and talk therapy are usually the most effective course. Unfortunately, a growing trend is to use medication only, which may be adequate for some but totally inadequate to others. Common concerns regarding seeing a therapist include cost, minimal insurance coverage, and issues regarding employment and privacy.

The way a client views therapy also may influence effectiveness. A person “dragged in” or forced to go will usually derive less benefit than a person who wants to be there. Degree of comfort with a therapist may also be directly tied to positive results. Some studies show that the patient/therapist relationship is much more important than therapeutic approach. If this relationship is not good, then talk therapy may not be particularly beneficial.

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anon65156
Post 5

I'm 18 and i want to work with abused kids. i love little kids. They are great. They all have a story to tell.

anon58159
Post 4

I have read all the comments and mine is a little different situation. I worked solely and supported my husband and son for seven years of our 15 years together. I worked hard to find us a home of our own and managed to keep up the mortgage.

Now he has found a good job and cut me off the bank account, would not let me in my home, and now I am living with my parents trying to make ins meet.

I need some advice of what to do. anon, Al.

anon57002
Post 3

"Talk" therapy, the psychotherapy technique described here is a total waste of time. I had fifteen years of it from several different therapists. Being able to talk

honestly to some, it is cathartic, but I can tell you from personal experience it doesn't move the needle at all in terms of learning new life skills and emotional regulation.

Marriage therapy is worse - in many or most cases, the "therapist" ends up conducting a debate between the members of the couple in the name of "better communication," completely failing to see how emotionally dangerous that can be.

I learned more reading Peter Gerlach's book "Who's Really Running Your Life?" than in all the fifteen years of "Talk" therapy I had. I am not Peter and I don't get anything for recommending his book (as well as "You are the One You Have Been Waiting For" by Peter's mentor, Richard Schwartz) and other books that use "Internal

Family Systems" therapy instead of "Talk" therapy.

I'm just someone who finally found the help there that had been promised by other therapists but never delivered. I hope knowing about this can help some other people.

anon29282
Post 2

The fact that you keep putting up with this type of behavior and the constant threat of leaving has no effect on your husband for this reason "you threaten but never do anything about it." Either you stay and have a repeat performance or you do what is necessary for him to hear you. Both of you need to see a marriage therapist and you should ask yourself "why does your husband not stay at home" there seems to be an underlying problem here. This does not mean you are to blame, may stem from an event or something similar he has never mentioned. These things are never simple, but there is always a solution if you work hard to find it.

therrf
Post 1

where do i start, was off work for 7 weeks due to stress, unable to remember words at time, have been renovating a duplex for the last year, hubby is never home and his teenage son, which lives with us has no respect for me and believes that it is my fault that his dad doesn't spend time with him or help him with his car. I told him that his dad is never home with us here and that I am not the one to blame. I recently went back to work, and my husband still goes to the other place but always comes home half in the bag, cause friends drop by and they have beers. I told him that I've had enough about 2 months ago, but it is still ongoing.

Finally got thru to him but I think its too late cause I am ready to leave with our daughter because I can't put up with this for much longer. But because of the holidays, I am putting it off, cause if it would be spring or summer I would have left. But because of the kids involved, I don't think that it's a wise choice to leave now. I am always angry inside, and ready to hit whatever stands in my way. I go to work and it seems that I put a front to make it look like I'm happy (except to my close friends) Is it that I'm being selfish or am my having a depression or a nervous breakdown. I am presently taking 100mg Wellbutrin

Help anyone!! is this normal. and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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