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.
This is where talk therapy comes in. Read on to learn more about how talk therapy works and how it can help you see things from a different perspective to manage and cope with stress and other concerns. Plus, learn how SonderMind can connect you with a licensed therapist who’s right for you, so you can make the most of talk therapy.
Benefits of talk therapy
Talk therapy is a treatment that aims to help you identify and change emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that are interfering with your quality of life. It’s usually done one-on-one with a licensed, trained mental health professional, but can also be done in a group setting with couples or with families. “Talk therapy” may also be referred to as “psychotherapy”— they’re the same thing.
Here’s how talk therapy can help shift your perspective to improve your well-being.
1. Talk therapy helps you put feelings into words and regulates emotions
There are many benefits of talk therapy. 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.
2. Talk therapy helps you reframe situations to 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.
3. Talk therapy helps you speak your thoughts and put 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 that you think that you’re not a good writer. But you write letters to family, emails for work, and you even wrote a poem for your loved one. You read a lot and you have an extensive vocabulary, and have edited resumes and cover letters for friends.
If you speak this thought out loud with a therapist, they can help you see the reality of your accomplishments. You ARE a good writer.
Things to talk about in therapy
You may be wondering what to bring up to your therapist to help you get the most out of talk therapy. The things you talk about in therapy will be unique to your situation and what you’re looking to get out of therapy. What’s important is that you have open and honest discussions with your therapist. These could include conversations around your thoughts, feelings, and experiences regarding a wide range of topics that affect your mental and emotional well-being, such as:
- Exploring your relationships
- Talking about past traumas
- Discussing stressors and anxieties
- Sharing other issues that may be impacting your daily life
Additionally, talking about your goals, aspirations, and what you hope to achieve through therapy can help your therapist tailor their approach to best support you. Remember, therapy is a safe space where you can freely express yourself, so don't hesitate to bring up anything that is on your mind.
Throughout talk therapy, it’s also helpful to keep asking questions so you are actively participating in your mental health care and getting the care that’s best for you. Here are a few questions you can ask throughout your therapy journey.
Talk therapy is a dialogue
Talk therapy is 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 and won’t judge you. You’ll work together to identify the thoughts and behaviors that are preventing you from feeling your best. Then, you’ll work 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.
Does talk therapy work?
Studies have shown that about 75% of people who enter psychotherapy, or talk therapy, show some benefit. However, hundreds of studies have found that the collaboration between you and your therapist is what’s key in ensuring talk therapy works. That’s why it’s so important to work with a therapist who’s the right fit for you, so you can develop a strong therapeutic relationship and work together to develop your treatment plan and achieve your goals.
Connect with a therapist who’s right for you with SonderMind
If you need help connecting with a therapist who meets your needs and preferences, SonderMind is here for you. We do the hard work for you, so you don’t have to search through directories to find the right therapist. Just let us know a little more about what you’re looking for, and we’ll connect you with a licensed therapist who’s right for you within 48 hours.