8 reasons why talking is good for you
Talking as a psychological therapy has advanced in recent years, especially through the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme, and now these treatments are as commonplace as going to your GP. If you’re still unconvinced, here’s 8 reasons why you should consider giving it a go.
1. Coping ahead
Problems – big or small – are going to come up from time to time in our lives. We know this to be true even at the best of times. With the ongoing crisis, moving in and out of lockdown, this is true now more than ever. Knowing how to deal with future problems in a healthy way is an essential life skill. Whether you call it ‘Coping Ahead’ or ‘Futureproofing your life’, knowing how to recognise when things are developing in a negative direction before debilitating symptoms take hold is invaluable.
2. Knowing we’re not alone
Seeing a therapist can be a huge relief in-and-of itself since we know we are taking some kind of action to reduce our problems and symptoms. It is also reassuring to know we are not alone as we do this; and that there is someone in our corner. It is comforting just knowing that we have a built-in support structure that we can readily access once a week.
3. It can come back to haunt you
If you don’t deal with it now, then when? Not processing our emotions now can create a negative knock-on effect on relationships with our partners, parents, children, co-workers, and even ourselves. Repressed thoughts and feelings will not resolve themselves on their own; rather they may fester and come out in later years in ways that are more unmanageable than they are now.
4. Being more straightforward
Emotions such as anger are often expressed in a passive-aggressive manner, without us even realising it. Someone who feels slighted might make a sarcastic remark in return, or not show up at an agreed upon time, ‘forgetting’ the appointment. They may not even know why they are acting like this. Talking about these emotions with a professional therapist helps us to work through ancient (or recent) anger so we can become more self-aware; be more straightforward with ourselves and others; and communicate more effectively with people we care about.
5. It’s not all about you
One of the key benefits of therapy is that it not only helps us understand ourselves better but other people as well. When we hold unprocessed negative thoughts about others, they become so ingrained that we can start to see the world through this negative lens – and make assumptions that may or may not be true. Having a chance to explore these preconceptions and truly see them for what they are can help us perceive people in a new light. This can only improve our relationships with others.
6. You can re-wire your brain
And we’re not just speaking in a figurative sense! New research is showing how talking therapies can literally cause our brains to change, creating new neural pathways with every new insight. With brain imaging methods, therapy has been shown to alter activity in parts of the brain including the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus and the amygdala. Which in turn can decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression.
7. Physical symptoms get treated too
Counselling is not just for the mind. Somatising via stomach aches, headaches, sleeping problems, and ulcers are just some of the ways our bodies react to stress and psychic pain. But thankfully psychologists are finding new and exciting ways in which our minds and bodies are connected. Talking about it not only engages our thoughts and feelings but can help alleviate a plethora of physical ailments as well.
8. Time to write our life story
Talking about things gives our lives shape. Out of the material accumulated through conversations, session by session, week by week, we can create a different narrative of who we are; and how we fit into this world with all its attendant stresses and strains but also new hopes and dreams. Writing a journal can be a very effective way to reflect and develop this narrative.