Which Talk Therapy is Best?

Jerry Kennard Health Pro
  • One of the questions I get asked a lot is which of the so-called talk therapies is best. The fact that so many exist partly answers the question. There is no ‚Äėbest' talk therapy as such and so the therapeutic effect is arguably acquired firstly from the belief that therapy can help and secondly from the relationship a client and their therapist achieve. Having said this, there are some general guidelines that may be useful if you are considering going down the path of talk therapy.


    The first thing to point out is that your choice of therapist may be limited according to where you live. In a major city you may find that you are spoiled for choice whereas in more rural areas you may first need to locate a therapist with the availability to see you and then you may need to travel some distance, perhaps more than once a week. This comes down to the simple practicalities of logistics and cost.

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    Psychotherapy is helpful when emotional issues are deep-rooted. Most people think of Freud when the subject of psychotherapy is raised. In fact there are many forms of psychotherapy including Freudian, Jungian, and various forms of counseling that derive from analytical approaches. By contrast, cognitive behavioral psychotherapy has gradually emerged as the talk-therapy of choice for many mood-related disorders. It has a strong evidential base and well documented success across a wide range of psychological problems including anxiety, depression and PTSD.


    Freudian psychotherapy is based on a fundamental belief that our actions are underpinned by our unconscious mind and the coping strategies we acquired during childhood. When these patterns of thought are revealed during therapy they provide important clues about the way the person views their world. The task of the therapist is to encourage awareness of these patterns and in so doing offer insights and the freedom to make change.


    Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is based around the notion that we acquire negative beliefs about ourselves, other people and events, to the point where they become automatic. It is thought that such negative beliefs are set down in early childhood only to become entrenched in later life. The therapist works with their client to identify patterns of distorted thinking and then replace these with more rational problem-solving approaches. Cognitive therapists prefer to think of the client as someone who is able to understand and help solve their own problems.


    Counseling, if conducted by a properly trained individual, provides a safe non-judgmental environment that is useful for a range of life crises and traumas. Counseling may help with a variety of issues but comes into its own if you do not suffer with anxiety or depression except perhaps as a direct result of something that has had a profoundly upsetting effect such as bereavement, a worrying diagnosis, or a relationship issues. Always establish that your counselor is accredited by a professional body.


  • What I've tried to do here is outline three of the main characteristics of the more popular forms of talk therapy. There are a number of factors that may guide you to a particular approach. As mentioned previously, availability and cost are important issues. Some of the more analytical approaches can take a great deal of time (and therefore money), whereas CBT and some aspects of counseling may be offered as ‚Äėpackages' of a few sessions, depending upon needs and the seriousness of the problem(s).

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Published On: May 01, 2011