We’ve all probably used a friend, family member, or coworker as a “sounding board.” Sometimes you need someone else to talk things through or bounce ideas off of. It could be about any topic such as a work problem, how to proceed in a relationship, or even what color to paint your favorite room.
But when it comes to your mental health and well-being, sometimes you need more than a conversation with friends or family. If you’re dealing with stress or other mental health concerns that are interfering with your quality of life, “brainstorming” or “sound boarding” with a therapist can help you work through problems that affect not only your mental health, but also your physical health.
Read on to learn how talk therapy can help you see things from a different perspective to manage and cope with stress and other concerns.
Putting feelings into words regulates emotions
Talk therapy has proven to have many benefits. First, putting feelings into words helps in regulating negative emotional experiences. This is called “affect labeling.” Affect labeling has both short- and long-term effects for people experiencing stressful situations. In the short-term, when a person talks about their feelings toward a situation, it can help them experience less stress and negative feelings toward that stressful situation. In the long-term, the person will have less stress from the same type of situation in the future.
Reframing situations helps you see the bigger picture
Another benefit is practicing the skill set of reframing. “Reframing” is a form of meaning-based coping. It is the adaptive process by which stressful events are re-construed as benign, valuable, or beneficial.
Here’s an example of a stressful situation: You lose your job. Now let’s pretend it was a job you really didn’t enjoy to begin with. The benefit of this situation is that now you have the time to do something you enjoy or to learn new skills:
- Maybe you’ve always wanted to start your own company. This gives you the chance to do that.
- Maybe you’ve always wanted to go back to school to finish your degree. Now, you can.
- Maybe you’re unfamiliar with technology and the job you had did not give you the chance to learn it. Now, you have time to learn the technology you need to find a job that you actually like.
A therapist can provide an outsider’s perspective to a stressful situation. Chances are, this perspective will have “big picture” thinking rather than a limited focus to help you evaluate your situation in different ways.
Speaking your thoughts puts things in perspective
Lastly, and put very simply, hearing yourself speak your thoughts, ideas, and concerns can put things in perspective. For example, let’s pretend you’re a novelist and have landed on the New York Times bestseller list. Pretty amazing right?
Well let’s pretend that you also think that you’re not a good writer. If you speak this thought out loud with a therapist, they can help you see the reality of your accomplishments. You’re well published. Your books are the most downloaded. You ARE a good writer.
The talk in “talk therapy”
Talk therapy is dialogue. It’s about having a conversation with a therapist who provides a supportive environment where you can have honest communication and talk openly. Your therapist is there to be objective and neutral. Your therapist will not judge you. You and your therapist will work together to identify the thoughts and behaviors that are preventing you from feeling your best. You’lll work together to change those thoughts and behavior patterns so you can gain perspective and be able to cope with difficult situations now, and in the future.