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What is Talk Therapy?

Medically Reviewed and Edited by 
Olga Kyrychenko, Psychologist

Talk therapy is a psychological treatment for mental health problems. Stress, anxiety, and depression in particular are highly common in today’s society, and talk therapy is one of the most popular ways to help treat these problems.

Talk therapy treatments must be administered by a trained therapist or counselor. But, what is talk therapy exactly, what are its different types and how effective are they? Reading this article will help you answer these questions, as well as find the best online platforms that offer talk therapy services.

Where to Find Talk Therapy Online in 2023?

BetterHelp - Best Talk Therapy

$ 60-90 Per Week
  • More than 20,000 Therapists
  • Our Top Rated Therapy Site
  • Great Platform & Easy To Use
  • 50% Off First Month
Best

Talkspace - Best With Insurance

$ 65-99 Per Week
  • 2nd Largest Therapy Provider
  • Combine Talk Therapy & Psychiatric Care
  • Best With Insurance
  • $80 Off First Month

Brightside - Therapy & Prescriptions

$ 22-87 Per Week
  • Psychiatric Evaluation by Licensed PhD
  • Medicine delivered Within 5 Days
  • Great Value For Money
  • $50 Off First Month

Is Talk Therapy Effective?

Talk therapy is proven to be highly effective in treating a wide variety of mental health problems. Talk therapy works, and there is a lot of literature and peer-reviewed research to back up those claims, such as this 2018 study and this 2014 study.

In fact, talk therapy has been proven to work not just face-to-face, but also over the phone. This really highlights how much can be achieved through conversation with a trusted therapist, and that you don’t even need to be in the same country to benefit.

There are limitations to talk therapy, as there are with any treatment. The process requires the person to be open and honest about their emotions. But, sometimes the relationship between therapist and client may not have the right chemistry, in which case the patient might want to find a new therapist. This is a clear advantage of online therapy sites – where switching between counselors is as easy as it can get. 

Furthermore, talk therapy may not be enough in isolation for more severe mental health conditions, such as bi-polar disorder, where it may be coupled with medication or other treatments. That isn’t to say talk therapy in this instance is futile, but instead requires supplementary treatments.

Different Types of Talk Therapy

Talk therapy can be divided into a few different categories. Below are the main types of speech-based therapy, all of which can be easily found online:

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is a treatment that looks to correct self-destructive behavior. Behavioral therapy is a broad umbrella term that includes CBT (explained below), among others like acceptance and commitment therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy.

But, all of these share commonalities. They are all types of speech therapy that are predicated on the belief that all behaviors are learned, and can thus be changed. So, they focus on current problems and help change them. This is why they are mostly focused on issues like anxiety, panic disorders, addiction, and OCD.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is a type of behavioral therapy which happens to be the most common. Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on behavioral therapy, but also includes cognitive therapy. As such, it aims to correct negative behaviors through the change of your mindset and by eliminating destructive thoughts and patterns.

CBT focuses on our behavioral response to distress or uncomfortable situations, then looks at changing the negative thought patterns causing that response. Usually, a course of CBT is planned for a given amount of time (i.e. 12 sessions).

Psychodynamic Therapy

This therapy looks at past experiences as well as the interpretation of our emotions and behaviors. Self-reflection is key here, guided by the therapist, but it can be a long process. Essentially, it is the belief that unconscious conflicts can come from your past experiences.

Humanistic Therapy

Humanistic therapy is a therapy that focuses on being one’s true self. The idea is that we all have a unique outlook on life, and this can impact how we make our decisions. The assumption is that people are inherently good and can make their own decisions, and that we need to move towards living a more fulfilled life by changing the way we perceive ourselves and the world.

Benefits of Talk Therapy

Talk therapy is a treatment for many different conditions and issues. If a patient has anxiety that gets in the way of their daily life, the main benefit of talk therapy is that this anxiety can be reduced.

Talk therapy online has risen in popularity because it holds many unique benefits over traditional face-to-face therapy. Beyond being just as effective, it is cheaper and more accessible. Therefore, more people can gain access to it if they live in a rural area or struggle with money.

Many of us do not realize we have depression, trauma, and other mental health problems. So, seeking out talk therapy may yield more benefits than we could have possibly imagined. This is very common for men who seek our anger management counseling, and end up discovering more about their past, their traumas, and their anxiety. 

Therefore, talk therapy can be more than just tackling one issue; it can change our life in many ways, including career and relationships. It can also give us the tools to navigate our future emotions and experience in a healthier way.

How Does Speech Therapy Actually Works?

When looking at what talk therapy is and how it works, it’s worth choosing a specific type of talk therapy. In this case, we will look at CBT as it’s by far the most popular option and also overlaps with many other talk therapies.

When seeking CBT treatment, you will likely do a course of 5 to 20 sessions with each lasting around an hour or less. The sessions will mostly seem like you’re breaking down your problems into smaller parts. For example, the problem, the trigger, the thoughts that accompany and precede it, as well as the physical feelings and actions.

CBT is highly structured, meaning it isn’t just a free-flowing conversation like you may imagine. It’s not just about looking backwards on your issues, but also looking forwards towards goals. It’s more about how you currently act and think rather than resolve past issues. The therapist will not tell you what to do, but instead help collaborate to find solutions.

A lot of this revolves around negative thought patterns. Many of our depressive or anxious symptoms arise from cycles of negative thoughts that loop back onto each other. This can lead to hopelessness or letting one depressive/anxious thoughts spiral into many worse ones. CBT helps you interrupt this by being able to spot when it’s happening. Of course, these are skills that will serve you for a lifetime, not just for as long as you’re getting therapy.

Conditions it Can Help With

There are talk therapy benefits for many different conditions. Below are some conditions that it has been known to help:

However, some people with some conditions may want additional treatments alongside the talk therapy, whilst other people with other conditions not mentioned may find huge benefits from talk therapy.

Talk Therapy vs. Medication

When looking at what is talk therapy, talk therapy vs medication is often described as a common conflict. However, the truth is that neither one inherently contradicts the other and it’s possible to receive both forms of treatment. The real conflict can often come from some factions of healthcare practitioners giving medication to patients because of its immediate benefits, whilst other practitioners may be vying for talk therapy techniques before medication. But, the latter is more costly and lengthy, making it somewhat a conflict of resources.

Talk therapy for depression, anxiety, and stress are so incredibly effective that it would be preferable to try before medication for some patients. However, when the immediacy of treatment is of utmost importance, medication can improve a patient’s well being much faster. 

Medication is often required for conditions like schizophrenia or bipolar, whilst talk therapy CBT becomes a supplement. Mood-stabilizing drugs are powerful and shouldn’t be shrugged off as unnatural. Ultimately, different people respond differently to different treatments. Therefore, it is best to seek advice from your doctor. One thing we know for certain is that talk everyone can benefit from talk therapy, whilst perhaps not everyone needs medication.

Summary

The talk therapy definition is precisely how it sounds: talking out your feelings and experiences with a licensed therapist. The goals and focuses of those conversations can often depend on the types of talk therapy, but the common goal of them all is to improve our behavior, mood, and self-esteem. 

Talk therapy is used to treat a wide variety of conditions and it needn’t be in direct competition with the use of medication. The benefits of talk therapy are often underestimated to be simply helping reduce a mental health condition or a specific form of suffering. However, the benefits are far-reaching, with career, relationships, stress, and mood all benefiting.

Talk therapy vs psychotherapy and other such debates are less important than seeking help in the first place. Talk therapy for stress and other conditions can be quickly found online, which are more affordable and more easily accessed than traditional face-to-face methods. And, the effectiveness of online talk therapy is proven to be just as effective.