What is talking therapy?
Talking therapy is a treatment that involves talking to a trained professional about your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It provides a safe space to speak about something you’re struggling with, whether you’ve been going through a crisis or feeling low.
‘Talking therapy works differently depending on the type of treatment you choose and the challenges you’re experiencing,’ says Henrik Altréus, licensed psychologist and CBT psychotherapist at Livi.
It might be in person, in a group, online, over the phone, with your family or with your partner.
What can talking therapy help with?
Talking therapy can help you make sense of things and understand yourself better. It can also help you recognise unhelpful patterns in the way you think or behave and find ways to change them.
You might consider talking therapy if you’re:
- Feeling low or depressed
- Feeling anxious
- Having panic attacks
- Feeling stressed
- Having trouble sleeping
- Experiencing negative thoughts
- Coping with difficult life events, like grief over the loss of a loved one or a break-up
Who is talking therapy for?
‘Talking therapy is for people who need support coping with a challenging life situation or a mental health problem,’ says Altréus. ‘It can also help support your personal development.’
Talking therapy can seem like a last resort, but you don’t have to be going through a crisis to try it.
‘For some people, talking can be a healing process in itself,’ says Altréus. ‘Others might need a structured method and effective strategies to try.’
What are the different types of talking therapy?
There are many different types of talking therapy. ‘For every type, language is used as the main tool to help you describe, evaluate and restructure the way you think about personal problems,’ says Altréus.
1. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
CBT is one of the most well-researched types of talking therapy. It’s based on the idea that your thoughts influence your feelings and behaviours. It combines 2 types of therapy:
- Cognitive therapy: looking at the way you think
- Behaviour therapy: looking at the way you act
Often considered the most effective form of psychological therapy, CBT can help with a range of problems, including depression, anxiety and stress-related issues like insomnia.
‘It teaches you strategies for working with your emotions, relationship problems, negative thinking patterns like self-criticism and much more,’ says Altréus.
2. Psychodynamic therapy (PDT)
PDT is about understanding how your unconscious thoughts affect your behaviours. ‘PDT is particularly useful for addressing issues related to childhood difficulties and personality disorders,’ says Altréus.
3. Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
‘IPT focuses on improving relationships with important people in your life,’ explains Altréus. It’s based on the idea that strong relationships with your family, partner or friends can support your mental health.
4. Family therapy
If your family is going through a tough time, family therapy can be worth a try. ‘Family therapy helps family members or couples to deal with crises, resolve relationship problems and cope with difficult life situations,’ explains Altréus.
How does online talking therapy work?
Research shows that digital talking therapy like iCBT can be as beneficial as in-person therapy. It’s also convenient, since you don’t have to travel to an appointment. Some of us might feel more at ease if we’re at home or somewhere we feel safe.
Digital therapy is usually done over a video call to help it feel as similar as possible to talking in person. ‘Good relationships can still be made in distance psychological therapy,’ says Altréus.
‘Digital talking therapy is suitable for mild to moderate mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and stress.’
How can I get talking therapy?
You don’t need to have any kind of diagnosis to try talking therapy. Speaking to a GP is a helpful first step to deciding which type of talking therapy to try.
This article has been medically reviewed by Henrik Altréus, licensed psychologist and CBT psychotherapist at Livi.