How Does Talk Therapy Help?
Years ago when I was looking into therapy, I knew on one level it seemed like a good idea, but on the other hand, I wasn't sure talking about my problems was going to help. Going to therapy wasn't getting a new job, finding a new partner, convincing people to treat me better. I was afraid, like many people who consider (or don't bother considering) therapy that talking about my problems was going to just make things worse.
The good news is that therapy definitely made things better for me. So much so that I wanted to be able to help others in a similar way. But how does it help? Well... therapists themselves will debate this point, and the truth is that it works in a lot of different ways for a lot of different people.
With that said, below are some of the key aspects I keep in mind, when working with someone:
These are the “A-ha!” moments in therapy. You gain understanding into how you fit in (or don’t) with your family, community, culture, workplace, and more. You get more information on why you think, feel, and act the way you do, while considering what other options you have.
You may already have an idea of what the “right” thing to do is, but find yourself stuck in habits that aren’t working. Together we identify what is getting in the way of the changes you want to make and find ways to address those barriers. You take on new challenges on your terms, to help you get unstuck.
People can’t create something from nothing. If you never had good models for healthy relationships, managing stress, or self awareness, then you don’t just wake up one day a fully realized person. Therapy is a chance to develop new skills in these areas using evidence based techniques.
For some of my clients, it may be the first time someone really listens to them, patiently, and without harsh judgements. It can feel strange at first, especially for people who have had their trust broken in the past. Over time, however, being treated with dignity and respect can start to sink in. In therapy, the trusting safe space is called “the holding environment” and there is a tremendous amount of literature supporting it being one of the most powerful healing factors in therapy.