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Talk Therapy: Types and Benefits

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Talk therapy helps people identify issues that cause emotional distress. Read the article to learn more about the benefits of talk therapy and its different types.

Medically reviewed by

Daniyal Riaz

Published At March 27, 2023
Reviewed AtMay 20, 2024

What Is Talk Therapy?

Talk therapy is a practice in which a person explores their feelings and thoughts by talking about them. It is also known as psychotherapy. Talk therapy helps people to express their feelings and emotions with trained professionals in a safe and confidential environment. Participating in talk therapy can significantly help and result in a positive impact on overall mood and outlook.

Talk therapy helps a person deal with a broad spectrum of issues, including;

  • Depression.

  • Anger management.

  • Eating disorders.

  • Grief.

  • Anxiety.

  • Phobia (fear).

  • Distressed relationships.

  • Bipolar disorder (a disorder associated with mood swings like mania and depression).

  • Schizophrenia (a disorder that affects a person’s thinking and behavior).

Psychotherapy can be an alternative to medication.

What Are the Main Types of Talk Therapy?

Mental health professionals recommend different types of talk therapy based on preferences or specific symptoms. These interventions can help a person address specific issues, including self-defeating ways of thinking, fears, or dealing with stress at home or work. Some of the talk therapies recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA) are:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)- It is a form of behavioral therapy in which the therapist helps identify negative thinking patterns during the treatment. The aim is to explore and change thoughts about life and behavioral patterns. Short-term therapy employs self-monitoring, mindfulness, and questioning harmful thoughts. It effectively treats depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental health conditions.

  • Humanistic Therapy - It is a client-centric therapy. People live a life true to themself to teach the feeling of fulfillment. The therapy focuses on self-actualization. It addresses problems by inspecting a person’s life from different angles. It allows one to question his existence and dwell on the meaning of one’s life. Humanistic therapy allows the patient to control the session more directly. It has three subtypes: client-centered, allowing the person to become an equal partner in the therapy session, and self-discovery. The second subtype is gestalt therapy, in which the focus is on the patient’s experiences in the present. It involves the patient's relationship with the therapist's current environmental and societal contents of their life. Thirdly, there is existential therapy, which aims to help the person.

  • Psychodynamic Therapy - It involves working on unconscious meanings and motivations of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It improves the ability of the person to make choices, relate to others, and live life to the maximum. The therapy emerges from Sigmund Freud's teachings and focuses on the person's past experiences to interpret behaviors and emotions. The therapy involves extensive study and takes longer than other forms of talk therapy.

  • Holistic or Integrative Therapy - The therapist may work with one or more approaches in the therapy sessions. It involves a personalized treatment plan to serve the person’s needs.

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy - It is a form of behavioral therapy. The therapy is based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy and teaches behavioral skills, including emotion regulation, mindfulness, and distress tolerance. It is also effective for psychiatric disorders, such as substance abuse, mood and eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How to Get Started With Talk Therapy?

Talk therapy is designed to help one feel and live better. Once a person has enrolled for talk therapy with a therapist, they may be asked a few questions to gain a comprehensive understanding. The questions during the initial appointments tend to be on the following:

  • Family history of mental health conditions.

  • History of trauma.

  • Daily stress and coping with it.

  • Expectations from the therapy.

What Are the Things to Be Considered During the Psychotherapy Sessions?

Talk therapy is an open-ended dialogue related to a person's concerns. The therapist may note the person's family life, social life, habits, relationships, childhood experiences, and history of medical conditions. Multiple sessions with the therapist may be required to develop an action plan for the treatment. A few things to be considered during the psychotherapy sessions include

  • It may be helpful to take a loved one for the first appointment for emotional support. This will help one to be at ease and feel more comfortable that someone one trusts are waiting outside.

  • The patient must be open and honest as much as possible. Having clear communication allows therapy to work effectively and efficiently. The patient must not feel guilty about talking through thoughts or must not feel small, stupid, or shameful, and must never censor the talk or judge what is right and wrong. The more information is given, the more the therapist can help.

  • Good communication must be maintained to maintain a strong relationship with a mental health professional. The person must feel free to ask questions regarding the therapy process, while the therapist must be able to give constructive feedback and guidance.

  • It is normal if the person does not connect well with the first therapist; however, they can meet a few therapists until satisfied. Developing rapport may take multiple sessions. So trust the process and focus on the work at hand.

  • One must be committed to the process to get the most out of it for therapy to be successful. Sometimes, therapists may not be able to answer all the woes, but they can help one to make better choices and healthier decisions.

  • The therapist may suggest a few immediate actions at the end of the first session and provide a game plan and a new sense of hope.

  • Celebrate mental health achievements. The therapy requires time, effort, and courage. Prioritizing one's mental health takes a lot of courage and must be an inspiration for others.

What Are the Benefits of Talk Therapy?

Reaping the utmost benefits of psychotherapy, a person develops;

  • Improved communication skills.

  • Healthier thinking pattern.

  • Stronger family relationships.

  • Ability to make better and healthier decisions

  • More significant insights about life.

  • To cope with stress and manage distress.


Talk therapy is a proven treatment method for mental illness. It is an effective means to help one pinpoint the core issues, triggers, and harmful patterns of behavior. The therapy not just solves the present problem but helps to develop new skills to cope well with upcoming challenges in the future.

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Daniyal Riaz
Daniyal Riaz

Psychologist/ Counselor


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