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Do Talking Therapies work?


‘Talking’ therapy, also known as psychotherapy or counselling, is a widely recognised and effective approach to addressing mental health challenges. It involves engaging in conversations with a trained therapist or counsellor to explore and understand thoughts, emotions, behaviours, and the underlying factors contributing to psychological distress. In this blog, we will delve into the efficacy of talking therapy, examining its benefits, various approaches, and the research supporting its effectiveness.

The Benefits of Talking Therapy

  1. Increased Self-Awareness: Talking therapy provides a safe and non-judgmental space to express and explore thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Through this process, individuals gain a deeper understanding of themselves, their patterns of thinking, and their emotional responses. This heightened self-awareness can lead to personal growth and positive behavioural changes.
  2. Emotional Regulation: Many forms of talking therapy, such as cognitive-behavioural informed therapy (CBT applications), focus on developing effective coping strategies and emotional regulation techniques. By learning to identify and manage negative emotions, individuals can improve their mental wellbeing and reduce the impact of stress, anxiety, and depression.
  3. Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills: Talking therapy helps individuals develop problem-solving skills and gain new perspectives on challenging situations. Therapists guide clients in exploring alternative solutions, challenging negative beliefs, and developing healthier coping mechanisms. This  can lead to improved decision-making and a greater sense of control over one’s life.
  4. Relationship and Communication Skills: Therapy can improve interpersonal relationships by enhancing communication skills and fostering empathy for others’ situations and perspectives. Through therapeutic conversations, individuals gain insight into their relational patterns and learn effective ways to express their needs, set boundaries, and build healthier connections with others.

Research on the Effectiveness of Talking Therapy

Multiple studies have demonstrated the efficacy of talking therapy in treating a wide range of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress  (PTSD), eating conditions, and substance abuse. Here are a few key findings:

  1. Anxiety and Depression: Talking therapies, particularly CBT, have been shown to be as effective  or more  effective as medication in treating anxiety and depression in mild to moderate presentations, with long-lasting benefits even after therapy has ended. Research indicates that therapy can reduce symptoms, improve overall functioning, and decrease the risk of  self harm or suicide ideation and relapse. Whilst CBT interventions have attracted most research evidence there is less evidence for their efficacy with forensic populations, who have traditionally been under researched but also have high needs for mental health support.
  2. In Atrium Clinic’s own review of many 100s of case data sets, even those clients with severe presentations can do well with eclectic and person centred Talking Therapies which are also CBT informed with 70% improvement. Talking therapies for more severe presentations, are often accompanied by medications so it is sometimes hard to distinguish the derivation of benefits. The ‘numbing effect’ of medication may save lives and therapies may contribute to understanding longer term causality of distress which often is linked to unresolved traumas. CBT alone may not work for some people. A variety of different approaches, known as evidence-based integrative therapies, can be identified with the client to ensure their needs are best served by an approach that works for them.
  3. PTSD: Various forms of therapy, such as cognitive processing therapy (CPT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), have been proven effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD and facilitating trauma recovery although there is some controversy for EMDR with certain groups.
  4. Eating Conditions/Disorders: Talking therapy, often combined with medical and nutritional support, has been successful in treating eating problems. It helps individuals explore the underlying factors contributing to disordered eating behaviours, develop a healthier relationship with food and body image, and learn effective coping strategies.
  5. Substance Abuse: Different therapeutic approaches, such as motivational interviewing and cognitive-behavioural therapy, have shown effectiveness in treating substance use disorders. Therapy can address the root causes of addiction, help individuals build resilience, and support them in developing strategies to maintain sobriety.

Is Talking therapy an alternative to medication?

If you are suffering with anxious symptoms or low mood, medication or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) medications are not offered by GPs unless you have a severe presentation or have tried other approaches. Many periods of distress are a natural response to life events and may get better on their own over weeks or months. Self care and talking through these issues and concerns can support recovery, increase the rate of recovery and prevent a return to suffering. Medication is something that should not be sought without thought. There is increasing evidence of general and withdrawal side-effects after longer term use but when recommended by a clinician, the benefits typically outweigh the disadvantages. Psychotherapists may work alongside a prescriber and advise starting a course of Talking therapy when your symptoms have stabilised so you feel safer in working on underlying issues to improve your mental health in the longer term. Some Talking Therapy conversations might include work together to develop strategies to keep yourself safe.

Psychotherapist training

Anyone can call them selves a counsellor if they have done a Level 3 counsellor course even if they don’t have any psychological or mental health qualifications. At Level 4, counsellors have done 2 years part time training but may have no further education or psychological or mental health background. The registration bodies are now considering being clear about the level of training of their registered and accredited counsellors  to guide commissioners and the public in buying services. Currently many services for private clients and online therapy providers employ a majority of Level 4 counsellors. Atrium Clinic works with the NHS and partners other mental health service providers and most of our practitioners are degree or masters degree practitioners with 5 years training or counselling psychologists at doctorate level.


Talking therapy offers a valuable and evidence-based approach to improving mental health and wellbeing. By providing a supportive and confidential environment, therapists help individuals gain insight, develop coping skills, and foster positive behavioural changes. The effectiveness of talking therapy has been demonstrated across various mental health presentations, making it a vital component of comprehensive treatment plans. If you are experiencing mental health challenges, seeking the support of a trained therapist can support you toward improved mental wellbeing. You need to be prepared to change your practitioner if the relationship with them is not meeting your requirements. At Atrium Clinic, we understand the therapeutic alliance is very important but we are all different and what works for one person won’t work for another.

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Atrium Clinic
642 London Road

Telephone: 01702-332857

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