WHAT ARE TALKING THERAPIES?
Talking therapies are concerned with, as you've probably already guessed, talking about your problems with a relevant, properly-training professional.
Talking to friends or family is one thing, but they don't always have the necessarily skills to actually help in the long run. Often these problems are linked to your mental health and that, my friends, might need a specialist.
Therapists who deal with talking therapies will attempt to resolve your problems using various strategies by either finding ways to help you cope and manage with them or, more importantly, try and identify the underlying concern and help you figure out what's causing the problem in the first place.
They work best when used as part of a care (or treatment) plan, e.g. they form part of a solution, often with medication, that will work towards putting you more in control of your condition.
As you will see below, there are a number of different talking therapies and they may not always be successful for you and your problems. What might work for someone else, won't necessarily help you. Some will work better with certain conditions, others may not work at all. You can but try.
TYPES OF TALKING THERAPIES
When it comes to mental health, their conditions and symptoms, there are a multitude of different, often confusing, names that all point to the same thing. Talking therapies are no different.
We have tried to group them together below into the more common types, but they are often tweaked slightly by different therapists who may need to modify a particular type to suit a particular condition or patient. With that in mind, these are the broad descriptions, but they may not relate exactly to your experience.
HOW DOES TALKING THERAPY WORK?
Each kind of therapy will differ slightly in how it works. In general, in the early stages of any therapy, you will sit with your therapist and discuss your own unique set of circumstances. They will probably ask you about your problems and specific questions to try and identify any root cause and hope to identify the issues are blocking or hurting your recovery.
Talking therapy gives you the opportunity to talk about your concerns, your worries and your state-of-mind with someone who is trained to listen, interpret and suggest solutions.
If you've been bottling up feelings for a long time, just the sense of openness and relief can be a huge help. They will use their experience to help you understand what's going on in your noggin and identify patterns of thinking or behaviour that are unhelpful.
They may also use different aspects of the various therapies (listed above) in combination to deliver a solution that works.
Therapy may work on a one-to-one basis or it can be done as part of a group, or even a mixture of the two; i.e. some weeks alone, others in group work. Most therapies will be a long-term process.
You will be expected to commit to any form of therapy and should have explained how to end it if it isn't working for any reason. Sessions usually last about an hour and, depending on how often you have them, will last a few months right up to a year or more.
WHO ARE TALKING THERAPIES FOR?
Talking therapies can work well for those with a number of different conditions. As we've said, not everyone is the same when it comes to their personality, their condition, their symptoms and even their openness to therapy, so there can't be a 'one-size-fits-all' approach.
It can be a bit of a lottery, certainly in the UK, for finding the right therapist for you and one that will help you with your particular problem. Most NHS trusts, for example, will provide CBT therapy, but if your need is more unusual or specialised then you may not always get what you need in certain areas of the country.
Depending on your particular need or set of circumstances, private therapy may be the only answer, but that can be quite expensive.
It's worth noting that you don't necessarily need an expensive psychiatrist or psychologist to engage with. Therapists, social workers, nurses or life-coaches can help, but you MUST ensure they are properly trained. Don't necessarily be fooled by an impressive-looking certificate on the wall. If you're unsure, ask questions, get references and research their qualifications.