How can talking therapies benefit me?
There is a lovely line in a 1980’s film called “Crocodile Dundee” when a streetwise city woman(Sue) is trying to explain to a man who has spent most of his life living in the Australian (Crocodile Dundee)outback what a psychiatrist does and why someone goes to one:
Sue “People go to a psychiatrist to talk about their problems. She needs to unload them and get them out in the open”
Crocodile Dundee “Doesn’t she have any mates?”
Many people do not know why going to a psychotherapist or counsellor for “talking therapy” is different from talking to your mates apart from the fact that you usually have to pay.
So how does talking therapy differ from a chat with your friends and why can it be so much more beneficial and effective for you?
Your therapist is entirely focused on you – with the best will in the world there are very few of us who whenever we get together for a drink with our friends or acquaintances are happy to sit there and monopolise the time by talking in depth about our problems or challenges to the exclusion of the other person. Naturally we also wouldn’t like it if we were always on the receiving end of this. A talk therapist is there for you at your session to provide you with the time to fully explore and work on your challenges and difficulties without you concerning yourself about taking up too much of the conversation or your friends’ time.
You can say what you need to say – What we say out loud can be very different from what we are saying to ourselves via our thoughts in our head. We may feel that what we are thinking and feeling is unacceptable to our friends and family and that they might be upset or concerned for us, or that there is a risk to us or someone else by voicing these thoughts or that we are concerned that we will be misunderstood, not listened to or our thoughts and feelings dismissed or ridiculed. So we often edit what we say and feel to those around us. This can leave us feeling isolated, unheard and unable to resolve our difficulties. In talking therapy what you say is confidential and your therapist is unconnected with the rest of your life and trained to deal with and hear about all manner of situations, problems and conditions. So you don’t need to edit and you can be heard.
Your talk therapist is professionally trained and has the skills to assist you – Our friends are often fabulous and bring many positive elements to our lives however they are not trained therapists and experts in everything from anger management, anxiety and phobias right through to more complex mental disorders. Just as you take a car to be maintained and fixed by a person with the skills and qualifications of a mechanic; so you want to have your mental and emotional well-being supported by a trained practitioner to maximise the chances of you gaining and maintaining great mental and emotional well being.
You will be listened to – Barring medical problems we are all capable of hearing many different sounds all at once. Listening requires that not only do we hear sounds but we focus and actively try to interpret their meaning to the exclusion of other stimulus. How often have you been “listening” to what a friend has been saying but inside your head your thoughts are centred around how similar that is to something that you may have experienced and you are now just waiting to show your empathy by telling your tale ? Or maybe your thoughts have drifted off to something else entirely? Its normal but can leave us feeling unheard. In talk therapy your counsellor is skilled and trained to listen. This means that they remain focused on you and can assist you in identifying any underlying issues. You will feel heard and supported and it is more likely that you will be able to make a difference to your situation or condition.
Talking therapies can help prevent, manage and treat a range of conditions –
People often associate “therapy” with those images in films. In films therapy means someone has a crisis and has to go see a scary and serious faced therapist who makes them lie on a couch and everything they say or do is analysed as something deep and meaningful. If that is your idea of therapy then it can seem a little daunting. In reality talk therapies take many different forms and you don’t have to be at breaking point to access them and get benefit from them. There are psycho-educational workshops which are small group sessions to help you to improve and gain new life – skills to manage stress, anger, improve your communication, break habits and manage life changes like relationships, parenting and the menopause. These are often great for preventing more clinical conditions from developing at a later date or for managing situations to prevent escalation of existing problems. If you do experience more persistent life affecting symptoms or are diagnosed with a clinically recognised condition then talking therapies in a group or individual setting with a qualified practitioner can often aid your recovery or help you manage it. The additional benefit of accessing talking therapies is that these can either act as a sole treatment or be used in addition to treatment prescribed by your GP or medical consultant and in many cases your GP will recommend both to maximise the chances of the best outcome for you.
There is no substitute for having a good network of friends. To use a sporting analogy, they can be your greatest fans and loyal supporters cheering you on through the highs and lows of your game of life. Talking therapies and a good therapist are the physio sitting on the bench. We can get you match ready, improve your match fitness and assist you making a recovery after injury. We are knowledgeable, approachable and here to support you but we just provide the magic sponge and spray for your brain rather than a twisted ankle or bruised shin.