Sometimes the idea of speaking to a counselor can be met with skepticism. A common question that we hear in the counseling world is, “Can just talking really help me?” But the thought that counseling is “just” talking is actually a misconception. In today’s world, counseling typically integrates many different techniques and skills for healthy emotional growth and development. But even without those elements, counseling can be extremely helpful, not in spite of the use of conversation, but because of it.
For hundreds of years, therapists and other professionals have recognized a psychological benefit from verbal interaction with others. Most people are familiar with the name Sigmund Freud, as he is considered one of the founders of modern day psychology. While some of his theories have been disputed, one of his more esteemed contributions to the world of psychology was the development of “the talking cure.” In the late 1800s, this type of work began to make major changes to how people suffering from mental health issues were treated. Freud, and many of the highly regarded psychologists who came after him, noticed that discussing emotional issues could help a person to learn to work through them more effectively. Furthermore, talking about difficult or painful events in one’s life has been shown to help release the negative emotions attached to those events, through a process known as catharsis. This often provides a sense of relief, which can be crucial to the healing process. Counseling also utilizes an objective party – the counselor – who is previously uninvolved in the person’s life and therefore unbiased in helping people work through their emotions. This adds an extra element of effectiveness to treatment. There have been many studies over the years exhibiting the powerful impact of “the talking cure.” If you find yourself having doubts about the validity of talk therapy, it is highly encouraged that you look into some of the fascinating benefits of this technique. And next time you hear someone refer to mental health counseling as “just talking,” you, too, can help inform them of the powerful impact that talking to a professional can have on one’s mental health.
By: Allison Fiete, MHC