What is Talk Therapy and How Can it Help?

June 2, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life
This article has been medically reviewed by Leah Benson, LMHC

Top points

  • Talk therapy works by getting to the root of your psychological problems to uncover the best path forward for sustainable good mental health.
  • The four most common forms of talk therapy are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and humanistic therapy.
  • Ketamine treatment could provide relief from mental health symptoms to make your talk therapy more productive and beneficial.

Therapy can be one of the best things to do for your mental health, but where do you start? There are so many different types of therapy you could do that it is almost certain to make your head spin. Let’s start with defining talk therapy and go from there.

What Is Talk Therapy?

Talk therapy is a form of therapy that places a heavy emphasis on discussing what’s on your mind with your provider.

Talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, involves speaking with a trained therapist about your psychological obstacles and struggles in life. The idea is that after getting to the root of the psychological problem, the therapist and patient will be able to uncover the best path forward, seeking sustainable mental health.

Are There Different Types of Talk Therapy?

Talk therapy can either be one-on-one or in a group setting. Whether it is one-on-one or group therapy, these two different approaches fall under the umbrella of talk therapy. The four main types of talk therapy are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and humanistic therapy, all of which work to counter negative thoughts and thought patterns.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that has been proven effective in upwards of a thousand studies. During CBT sessions, a psychotherapist will guide the discussion to work alongside a detailed treatment plan that best fits the patient’s situation. This type of therapy challenges the patient’s thoughts to help them change unwanted behavior. CBT will typically happen over a set amount of sessions.

Psychodynamic therapy looks deeper into the psychological beginnings of what causes a patient to suffer emotionally. By using self-reflection and examination, psychodynamic therapy pays special attention to the relationship between patient and therapist to identify any issues or patterns with relationships in the patient’s life.

While psychodynamic therapy focuses on the patient’s patterns in relationships, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) focuses more on internal struggles, stopping self-destructive behavior, learning emotional regulation, and understanding how one’s behaviors affect others. It is evidence-based and typically works best for patients who have a borderline personality disorder, but it can be helpful to anyone who wants to lead a mentally healthier life.

Humanistic therapy is a form of therapy that emphasizes being yourself. It is the idea that being your true self will ultimately give you the most fulfilling life possible. During this treatment, a therapist will help you recognize the way you perceive the world and help you identify the behavior and thought patterns you wish to follow.

Are Talk Therapy and Cognitive-behavioral Therapy the Same Thing?

Traditional talk therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy may look the same at first glance but, in reality, are quite different. There is one main difference between the two, and that is structure. Traditional talk therapy generally has a very loose structure. During one of these sessions, what you talk about is completely up to you (the patient). The therapist simply explores whatever you are motivated to talk about.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy sessions are much more structured. These sessions are typically detailed specifically to the needs the patient has identified, and the course of therapy is set for a predetermined amount of sessions. In sessions, the therapist helps the patient explore and even challenge the thoughts they have related to the issue at hand, thereby helping them identify areas in which they want to change their thoughts to positively impact their behavior and experiences.

What Does Talk Therapy Entail?

A talk therapy session depends greatly on the patient and what they are dealing with. During a session, a patient will sit down with a trained professional therapist and discuss whatever they are willing to discuss in the allotted time. People will typically choose topics that are pressing.

Say you are going through a divorce, just lost your job, or were diagnosed with a serious medical condition. These are all issues that could be difficult to cope with. Going to talk therapy will allow you to gain insight into what you are feeling and how to cope with it. The discussion with the therapist may reveal new perspectives and insights that motivate you to accept things or change them.  

Who Can Benefit From Talk Therapy?

Those who have recently lost loved ones, have low self-esteem, are under emotional distress, or are just having a hard time could benefit from speaking with a mental health professional.

Those who deal with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, and other disorders should consider talk therapy as a part of their journey toward mental health as well.  

What Are the Benefits of Talk Therapy?

Those who are skeptical of therapists may wonder why someone would pay another person to listen to them discuss their feelings for an hour or so when you could easily vent to a friend or family member.

While it is important to talk to friends, having someone who is emotionally removed from your situation and trained to react appropriately and give you educated guidance can have a significant impact on your ability to create the change you desire. A trained professional will be able to do this, thus helping you in a different way than one of your friends or family members.

Talking to a trained professional in talk therapy can help you get better at stress management, relieve the tension you may have in your life, get better sleep, and bring relief to your mental health condition.

Stress Management

Stress management is a crucial part of life. Not being able to handle stress during stressful situations can lead to a domino effect of poor mental health.

If you find yourself lying awake at night with a racing mind, it is probably due to stress. You may know what you’re stressed about, like something that happened in the office the day before or something that happened between you and a friend, or you may not. There is nothing worse than being stressed and not knowing why. Talk therapy can help you pinpoint this stress and learn how to manage it.

Tension Relief

Tenison can be brought on by continuous stress and makes you unable to fully relax. This impacts your daily rest and ability to have fun which are crucial elements of your mental health. Talk therapy can allow you to discover the source of tension in your life and learn how to get the relief you have been searching for.

Improved Sleep Quality

Stress and tension are both large proponents of poor sleep quality or a lack of sleep altogether. If you wish to improve your mental health conditions, you need the appropriate amount of sleep each night.

Talk therapy helps you alleviate stress and reduce tension so that you spend less time at night dealing with anxiety and more time sleeping. Not only can it become easier to go to sleep, but you will notice deeper sleep as well.

Relief From Mental Illness

Many people struggle with mental illnesses. Whether it is depression, anxiety, or any type of mood disorder, it can be a crippling thing to deal with that is also difficult to treat. Talk therapy can be an effective way to treat these illnesses.

Talking with a professional will allow you to logically discover what is happening in your life, ultimately helping you learn the best path toward optimal mental health. Oftentimes a talk therapist can even help by suggesting other methods for you to try as well.

Does Talk Therapy Work for Everyone?

While talk therapy is always a great option to try, it does not work for everyone. For some people, the issue they face cannot be simply fixed by sharing it and learning how to approach it from a different mental point of view. While talk therapy generally won’t hurt your life, for some, other methods can be tried alongside it to truly make it as effective as possible.

How Can Talk Therapy Be Made More Effective?

For people dealing with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, talk therapy can truly do wonders to help them cope with the disorder. However, it won’t always treat the root of it.

Ketamine treatment is an alternative to the traditional antidepressants that do not work for many (or come with unwanted side effects). Antidepressants are ineffective for about 40% of those who try them.

Ketamine was developed as an anesthetic in the 1950s and has been widely used in hospitals ever since. In recent decades, it’s been studied for its positive effects on mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Ketamine, usually administered by an IV or oral lozenge (which we offer here at Nue Life), works on the neurotransmitter glutamate. This is a different pathway than traditional antidepressants, and ketamine has been shown to be especially effective for those struggling with treatment-resistant depression.

Many who take it feel relief within 24 hours of their treatment, and are able to use this sense of well-being to engage in deeper and more productive talk therapy. Ketamine treatment could provide the healing you need, especially when combined with traditional talk therapy.

The Bottom Line

Talk therapy is the act of talking to a trained therapist about pressing issues that are affecting your mental health. Whether you just got a divorce, were diagnosed with a disease, or are just stressed, talk therapy can help you explore the root of your problems so that you can overcome them. Combining talk therapy with ketamine treatment can make the experience of talk therapy deeper and more productive.

There are several different kinds of talk therapy, including CBT, DBT, psychodynamic therapy, and humanistic therapy. Whichever method you choose, talk therapy can be a meaningful and effective addition to your mental health routine.

Treatment at Nue Life

Nue Life believes in holistic treatment, meaning that what happens after your ketamine experience is equally as important as the experience itself. We want to ensure you have meaningful takeaways from your experiences and help you establish positive new neural pathways.

That’s why we provide one-on-one health coaching and integration group sessions with our programs. We’re here to help map out the mind and body connections in your brain and help you discover the real insights that lead to real relief.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy | The Penn Collaborative for CBT and Implementation Science

Psychodynamic psychotherapy brings lasting benefits through self-knowledge | American Psychological Association

Dialectical Behavior Therapy | PMC

Dialectical Behavior Therapy | University of Washington Behavior Research and Therapy Clinics

Humanistic Psychology | Goodtherapy

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