Understanding Talking Therapies
With it being the festive time and given the fact you will probably need to speak to a therapist once you've gotten through Christmas I am here to spread a special message about talking therapy ...
People often feel that going to talk to a therapist is reserved for those who are bat shit mental, this couldn't be further from the truth. Logically would it not be nice to have a chat with an unbiased individual every couple of weeks to let off steam? Is this not what you do every week with your bro’s and is this not just a very natural human behaviour?
If you present at your Doctors with a mental health problem by default you should be given the option of talking therapy. Sadly, many are not. You can find out more about what to expect for ANY health problem here at the National Institute for Clinical Health Care Excellence. GPs hand out thousands of prescriptions related to mental health every day without the option of talking therapy ever been given. Medication is an integral option to ANY treatment plan, however, it should not be the only option.
*NOTE: you do not have to go to your GP for a referral to NHS talking therapy services you can self-refer, find out more HERE*
So where does talking therapy come from? A wise old Greek philosopher; Epictetus once said;
“It's not the things in themselves which trouble us, but the opinions we have about these things”
And from this much of what we know to be talking therapy was born, talking therapy in a basic sense is, therefore, the process of enabling ourselves to see that an activating event creates a thought, which in turn creates a feeling, which can lead to a specific behaviour or physical symptom.
Activating Event: Your Ex appears.
Thought: They made me feel like anxious potato (amongst other abusive thoughts).
Feeling: Raw fear of feeling/sadness/anger/all of the above.
Behaviour: Run, hide! Pretend to be a table, avoid that c**t at all costs.
You can find out more about this by looking at the Hot Cross Bun of CBT.
There are many different talking therapies and it is important to find what is right for you. It is important to note counselling is an altogether different species of therapy and usually involves enabling somebody to debrief following substantial trauma e.g. bereavement counselling. This can almost be thought of as being a precursor to the type of talking therapies laid out above, as often we cannot move forward and challenge thoughts until we have dealt with what has happened. However, most therapists will be well versed in a variety of techniques which they switch between whilst you are under their care.
Here are a few of the specific types of talking therapy:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) CBT is the 'go-to' choice in the NHS world, however, it is very much reliant on the individual having the capacity to challenge how they think about life and why. In turn, this can lead to more useful behaviour, this is very akin to what is described above by Epictetus.
Interpersonal therapy (IPT) IPT is a talking therapy that is usually used for those experiencing depression to consider how their relationships are affecting them. It's a no brainer that poor relationships in your life can make you depressed and often depression can make relationships difficult.
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) EMDR is a therapy that's been developed to help people who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but has also been found useful for other things such as Personality Disorder. EMDR is a fascinating technique that relies on Rapid Eye Movement (REM) which normally we experience during sleep to process daily emotional experiences. The therapist will utilise actions such as moving his or her fingers back and forth in front of your face and ask you to follow these hand motions with your eyes. Eye movements are widely used, however, tapping, tactile stimulation, and auditory tones can also be used. At the same time, the EMDR therapist will have you recall a disturbing event. One of the easiest ways to think of EMDR is it is a bit like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time; our body cannot go into a full-blown trauma flashback whilst concentrating on sensory stimuli.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) MCBT unlike CBT focuses more on the thought and being able to allow it to pass. Mindfulness meditation is a self-help practice that can be useful as a preventative tool, MCBT is an extension of this in a sense and it is very useful for depression and addiction. MBCT wraps mindfulness and the cognitive therapy element of CBT together in a sense.
Alongside there being many different types of talking therapy don't forget therapists are also all different, indeed I was once known as Bad Cop and my colleague Good Cop (no idea why). With this in mind, it is ok to not click with the first person you see and it is also ok under NHS care to request a different person. If you have got the dollar to go private don’t forget to check your therapist or counsellor is registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or if you’re going for the big guns look for a psychologist on the British Psychological Society. You can also find more information on our help page.
Remember put on your oxygen mask first.
Peace and Love.
Have a Fucking great Christmas and New Year if I don't see you before.