How is talking about problems going to help?

10 reasons why it is better than not talking at all

One of the most frequent objections given by individuals or couples who resist going to counseling is whether “just talking” about problems is going to help. After all, talking is just talking and no action, right? Wrong! Here are the 10 reasons, validated by empirically tested research studies, why the “talk cure” really has one of the best success records of all.

Talking about issues forces us to put them into words and thus focus the mind on the details of the problem. This works very well if you have trouble concentrating your attention or if your thoughts and feelings about the issue feel like they are all jumbled together. Talking about thoughts and feelings helps bring more clarity to the situation and may be of significant help in coming up with possible solutions.

Telling the story to a trained listener, instead of just telling it to yourself over and over (also known as ruminating), helps you sort out what is often a confused mix of thoughts, emotions, opportunities and challenges. In solving a problem, the first step is to lay out as clearly as possible its dimensions, i.e., its scope, frequency and intensity. Talking about it helps you take this first step much more efficiently.

Talking about something that is heavy on our mind helps release tension. Most people say that they feel better, and think more clearly, after they’ve had a chance to talk about a bothersome issue. Although just talking about the problem isn’t per se a solution, it is that crucial prerequisite to finding just the right approach to solving it.

Talking is often perceived as an unburdening of the mind. The exploratory process that is inherent to putting things into words not only helps a person understand subtle and often unnoticed emotions, but it also helps in discovering alternative ways to manage strong and often uncomfortable feelings.

Talking to someone who’s a trained, unbiased listener puts the talker in a position to receive someone’s professional care, compassion and undivided attention. Any problem is usually made much worse if we feel misunderstood and uncared for. There are times in which keeping things to one’s self (perhaps motivated by a false need for privacy) may be the worst possible choice.

Talking opens up the possibility of receiving some useful insights. It is hard to see things clearly and objectively from within (as in, “not seeing the forest because of all the trees”). Moreover, none of us have all the experience and wisdom needed to address a situation in the most effective way, especially when we are stressed, tired, depressed, or anxious. Talking to someone who’s professionally trained to listen and to counsel may not be the easiest thing to do, but it is almost invariably one of the best choices.

Talking and exploring the problem with someone who can understand and help can uncover ideas and reveal all possible strategies and solutions. You’ve heard the saying, “there is nothing new under the sun.” This happens to be true of all things human. Chances are, your problem has been successfully solved by many other people with the same challenges and in the same circumstances. Talking about your particular situation may allow you to take advantage of someone else’s experience.

Talking to someone who cares relieves feelings of isolation and aloneness. These feelings are often caused by the very special circumstances or characteristics of the problem itself, which can give us the impression that “nobody would understand it.” This feeling can cause a person to isolate, refuse to address the issue, or resort to alcohol or drugs in an ill-advised attempt to get some relief. Talking is a much safer and more effective solution.

Talking about a serious issue with a professional is likely to make you feel better more quickly. The very fact that you’ve taken the steps to make the appointment, go to the counselor’s office, and talk about your situation has an immediate beneficial effect. Most people report “feeling much better” after the very first session of counseling. After the first session you’re not cured, but you will certainly feel much better about having begun your journey toward healing.

It’s better than medication alone. Major studies have found an effect size (which is a measure of treatment benefit) of up to 0.97 for talk therapy. For antidepressant medication, the average effect size is 0.31.

So, you see, just talking is not just talking…if you do it in the right setting and you believe in its curative power! I invite you to revise your thinking about this opportunity and take advantage of the talking cure. If you’re not currently seeing anyone, please call me at (678) 554-5632 to make an appointment… I may be the right listener for you.