Talk Therapy And Its Benefits

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams, LPC, CCTP
Updated April 10, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

In general, talk therapy is just as it sounds: talking about your thoughts and emotions with a licensed mental health professional who can help you make sense of them. Sigmund Freud is thought to be a pioneer of talk therapy, although today’s talk therapy often has many differences from Freud’s methods. Two common approaches to mental health talk therapy can include cognitive behavioral therapy and psychoanalysis, and you may attend sessions individually, with your partner, with your family, or in a group therapy setting. While anyone can benefit from talk therapy, those living with mental illness or experiencing relationship difficulties may find it especially helpful. Talk therapy can be a form of self-care that offers support and clarity. If you’d like to try talk therapy for yourself, one way to do so may be through an online therapy platform.

What is talk therapy?

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As the name suggests, talk therapy is a therapy generally based on the simple idea that talking about your thoughts and emotions can bring you clarity and cause a positive change in your mental health. It is also known as psychotherapy. Talk therapy is usually what most people think of when they hear the word therapist or counselor: a conversation between a person and a therapist, discussing the person's thoughts or challenges and working together to find insights and solutions.

People with a range of different mental or emotional challenges can all benefit from talk therapy. According to the American Psychological Association, people who receive psychotherapy are often better able to function in their daily lives. Talk therapy doesn’t only work for people with diagnosed mental health conditions, and many therapists focus on general well-being rather than diagnosis.

A brief history of talk therapy

Sigmund Freud was one of the early pioneers of psychotherapy and popularized psychoanalysis methods around the 20th century. Though psychoanalysis tends to differ from general psychotherapy, Freud did hit the mark on certain things. He made many contributions to the field of psychology. He was a believer in the power of talking to the patient about their thoughts and providing them with interpretations of these thoughts.

Today, talk therapy tends to be less focused on dreams and the subconscious mind and more on one's present realities and challenges. However, the general idea that the patient talking about these things can bring them clarity typically remains.

Freud's psychoanalysis methods remained popular throughout the early 1900s. Around the 1950s, more active therapies arose. Behavioral therapy became more common, and cognitive behavioral therapy was established. Psychotherapy continued to grow and evolve to fit modern needs. Today, talk therapy is practiced online and in the traditional in-person format to meet the needs of today's busy and technology-oriented society.

Approaches to talk therapy

The American Psychological Association reports many medically-reviewed approaches to therapy. Psychotherapy can encompass a broad range of sub-specialties. The different approaches to talk therapy often follow a different theory of psychology. Most psychologists utilize one type of therapy and a mix of methods to provide patients with an integrative therapy experience. Some of the most common approaches to talk therapy include the following:


This type of therapy aims to change the patient's problematic thoughts, emotions, and behaviors by focusing on their mind to find the subconscious meanings of their actions. Psychoanalysis has evolved since the early days of Freud, but the basic concept of exploring one's inner mind to bring about positive change remains largely the same. Psychoanalysis would go on to form the basis of more modern techniques, like psychodynamic psychotherapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

While behavioral therapy is usually more of an active therapy, when combined with cognitive therapy, the two generally form a very popular and helpful form of treatment for many people. CBT is mainly based on the idea that our thoughts can influence our feelings, which can influence our behavior. Thus, psychologists frequently work with patients to change their thoughts in order to ultimately modify their behavior. CBT often employs both talk therapy and behavioral components like exposure therapy. It is useful for complex health conditions like substance abuse, which is driven by both cognitive and behavioral factors.

Cognitive therapy

Cognitive therapy is similar to CBT, but it focuses primarily on the cognitive elements of therapy. The goal is typically to address harmful or adverse thought processes that prevent positive change. Cognitive psychotherapy sessions can help treat a specific mental health condition or improve overall well-being by helping clients approach their thoughts more productively. Cognitive therapy can help a person feel better about themselves in the face of modern stressors, like toxic social media and a challenging economic climate.

Types of talk therapy

In addition to the different theories of psychotherapy, there may be multiple ways to engage in therapy sessions.


This generally refers to one-on-one talk therapy between a patient and counselor. 

Group therapy

Group therapy can be defined as a talk therapy session with two or more patients present, although most groups have between five and 15 people. Some group therapies may be for people experiencing the same condition or struggle, like substance rehabilitation groups. Patients can learn from one another's experiences, and some people may find comfort in knowing that others are also experiencing and overcoming similar challenges.

Marital or couples therapy

Marital or couples therapy is generally designed to help people better understand and communicate with each other or overcome challenges in their relationships. Some couples may choose to undergo therapy not because of any problem, but because they want to get to know each other better on an emotional level. There should never be any shame in going to couples therapy; any couple can benefit from increased understanding and communication.

Family therapy

Family therapy is typically conducted when someone in the family lives with a mental illness or another emotional problem. The family may attend therapy together to better understand how to support this member of the family or work out any conflicts between family members.

Who can benefit from talk therapy?

Anyone can benefit from talk therapy. Regardless of whether you are experiencing any emotional distress, talking about your thoughts and emotions can be a helpful way to process them. Still, some people and conditions may be an especially good fit for talk therapy, such as the following:


Talk therapy can be useful for helping people figure out how to handle their emotions daily. It can be especially important for depression because the therapist can look out for signs of worsening symptoms and make sure the client stays on top of their treatment. 

Substance use disorder

Living with substance use disorder can be an incredibly challenging situation. People overcoming addiction can greatly benefit from talk therapy, whether individually with a counselor or in a group setting. A therapist and group can help the person learn how to handle the challenges that may accompany addiction and give them a sense of both accountability and support.

Bipolar disorder

This condition can cause someone to experience a wide range of emotions regularly. Talk therapy can help them understand these emotions and better function daily despite troubling emotions or thoughts. Talk therapy can also be a useful way to stay motivated to adhere to one's medication therapy. Never start or stop taking a medication unless under the guidance of a licensed medical professional providing medical advice.


As mentioned above, marital and couples therapy can be a great way for partners to improve their understanding of one another and strengthen their bond. Couples talk therapy can help partners learn things about one another and how to best help each other through challenging situations. It can also be an effective way to resolve any conflicts in the relationship and move on from them rather than letting them deepen.

Benefits of talk therapy

The conditions mentioned can certainly be helped with talk therapy. In general, though, anyone can benefit from talk therapy, regardless of whether they live with a specific mental health condition. In addition to relieving symptoms of depression or another condition, there may be additional benefits of talk therapy that everyone can enjoy.


One of the most useful aspects of talk therapy can be that it helps people find clarity in their thoughts and emotions. Through talk therapy, you may realize why you have certain emotional triggers or why you hold on to certain negative feelings. Regardless of their overall happiness level, most people have some things that they struggle with emotionally. Talk therapy can be a great way to let it out and have a trained professional offer insight into your feelings to bring a greater sense of mental clarity and peace to improve yourself.

Get the benefits of talk therapy online


In general, everyone needs people they can lean on in hard times. In addition to friends and family, a therapist you see for talk therapy can be a valuable addition to your support team. A therapist can be someone you can speak to openly about your challenges without any fear of judgment. They can offer valuable insight and suggestions regarding how to feel better or get through a hard time. 


The self-care movement may be booming, but sometimes people forget to take care of their mental health. Warm baths and home-cooked meals can be wonderful things to incorporate into your life, but taking care of your mind and emotions may be even more important. Working with a therapist to clear up any lingering negative thoughts or emotions you may have, or to work on a more serious mental condition, should be seen as an important aspect of self-care. Deciding to participate in talk therapy often means that you do not want to be held back by negative thoughts or hard times in life. Talk therapy can help you feel your best and learn coping methods to make it easier to get through life's curveballs and challenges.

Online talk therapy

Good mental health often affects all areas of your life and should be a priority for everyone. If you would like to see the difference talk therapy can make in your life or relationship, you can get started by working with an online therapist. Taking time to find a therapist can be a convenient, simple way to experiment with talk therapy and learn how it can improve your life. Plus, you can connect with a licensed mental health professional from home at a time that fits your schedule. 

According to this study, online therapy can be highly effective and often functions as an effective treatment for mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more. Regardless of whether you live with mental illness or would simply like to talk about your thoughts, feelings, and behavior, online talk therapy can be an excellent tool to improve your mental health and life in general.


During talk therapy, you may discuss your thoughts and feelings with a therapist to gain insight and work through challenges. Psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioral therapy are generally two of the most common types of talk therapy today, and anyone can benefit from them, although people experiencing relationship troubles or living with mental illness often find them particularly beneficial. You can attend therapy on your own, with your partner, with your family, or in a group of people experiencing similar challenges. If you’re looking for a form of self-care that can provide you with professional support and clarity, talk therapy may be an excellent choice. You can attend sessions with a licensed therapist in your local area or online.

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