eli5- why and how does talk therapy work?

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How does saying things out loud help solve anything? How is it different than just thinking about your problems?

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9 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

My understanding is that it is about building a trusting and secure relationship with somebody (your therapist). Building a strong interpersonal relationship with someone can help alleviate the problems a person may have with family, trauma, marriage etc.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because you’re bottling up your emotions. You need to express them and get it out your system.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be verbal or with someone else. It can be in a diary, notes app, video recordings, whatever.

It feels good to get it out and for most people, to have someone on the other side listening and offering support.

If you just keep it inside, ignore it, or don’t open yourself to the suggestion of help and support from others, you are setting yourself up for failure. It will eventually rack up and you’ll resort to even more unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Talking about it is different to thinking about it because the person you’re talking to can ask you questions – “why do you think that?”, “and what comes next after this stage?” – or encourage you to expand on what you’re saying in ways that you may not be ready to do for yourself. Sometimes it’s hugely reassuring to have someone who isn’t you say “you know what, it’s not just you who thinks this way. You’re not completely nuts to be worried about this.”

Saying it aloud also encourages you to **organise** it. If you’re thinking in circles, it’s a big ball of argh. Everything is tangled together. If you’re going to say it aloud, you start untangling it and forming your thoughts into something you can communicate, because communicating implies you hope to be understood. That in itself can help you see things differently than you did when it was a messy ball of argh

Anonymous 0 Comments

Back in the old days, like 100 years ago, therapy started out exactly like what you said. A person would lie on a couch and talk to a therapist for an hour, while the therapist silently sat and took notes. That’s why cartoons still show therapy like that, sometimes.

Nowadays, though, science has found that therapy works better when the therapist takes a more active role. A therapist doesn’t just sit and listen anymore — they will actually push back against what you say, and challenge you to see things differently.

Therapists are trained to notice when your thinking is “distorted”, like you’re viewing the world through a funhouse mirror. We all have distorted thinking in some ways — but the problem is when our thoughts work against our mental health and make us feel overly sad, angry, discouraged or hurt. When your natural thought patterns aren’t serving you, it’s sort of like you’re trapped in an invisible box. The therapist can help you notice the walls of your box and break out of it.

Therapists are also trained to know what lifestyle choices generally make people’s mental health better, and they can serve as a guide to help you work out how you can change your daily routine to feel better.

Anonymous 0 Comments

A therapist can also help you notice patterns and habits that you have, and figure out strategies for breaking out of them.

People bash Sigmund Freud a lot these days, but one of his real contributions to psychiatry was the idea that people have subconscious motivations. We can sabotage ourselves, and do weird things over and over in pursuit of some goal buried in our psyche, and we can have a huge blind spot about it all at the same time. It’s really hard to self-diagnose stuff like that.

Anonymous 0 Comments

When you think, you can leap from one thing to another without any boundaries or even logic, so it is easier to overthink and spectaculate based on nothing.

When you talk to someone, usually you must at least organize your thoughts and explain the logic so other person can understand what you are talking about. Hence the illogical thinking, when having to be spelled out loud, is busted and discovered.

Futhermore, therapist can ask question to help you navigate and challenge the illogical thinking in new viewpoints. They can also point out the unhealthy behaviors and their consequences in case you never notice, and suggest alternative change/ coping mechanisms

Anonymous 0 Comments

Imagine your car. You probably don’t know all the nuances of its mechanics. You might only know that it runs on gas. Maybe you think that shudder on braking is normal. Maybe the check engine light just came on.
With a car, you’d take it to a mechanic, who knows precisely how everything works and can fix it themselves while you wait
But your brain is a closed system and customized to your life.
So the “mechanic” can’t reach it and only understands all the parts in conceptual and general terms.
Talk therapy is like having a mechanic on the phone to help you fix the car. You have to tell them what you see and they tell you how to fix it based on how they understand what you say you see.

Talk therapy is about getting all those jumbled thoughts organized enough to express them. This makes them easier for the brain to handle because the brain is a pattern recognition machine. The therapist pushes back, turn a bolt here, reframe there. Pull out that filter, check your breathing and unclench your body.
You only get one car/brain. Maybe it just needs maintenance. Maybe it’s a clunker. But with a good therapist, you can ride straight to the end of a long, happy life

Anonymous 0 Comments

This is a related topic but I found it’s true for me. When I’m alone (so obviously this is not talk therapy) I can find that I can think about my emotions… Or I can speak my emotions out loud. Speaking out loud is much more effective in getting them understood and labeledthen just thinking about it. Doesn’t seem like it should be, right? But based on personal experience it’s a huge difference. I think it’s for some of the reasons mentioned in this thread.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Repeated so much its lost all meaning but humans are social creatures. In our heads our “selves” and “other people” are not completely separate. Another person making effort to get to know you and accept you, will allow you to do it for yourself.