Talking therapies or treatments range from ‘brief supporting discussions with a person who has no formal qualifications, to intensive work over a period of months or even years with a highly trained practitioner’ (Coppock and Hopton, 2000, p. 133).
Whether it is short- or long-term, individual or group-based, informal or formal, professional or lay, talking therapy is based on the notion that ‘it’s good to talk’.
The assumption is that it is through the process of talking about events and experiences that people develop an awareness of, and insight into, the sources of their distress.
Understanding the causes, the sources or even the signals of mental distress can be beneficial to people in managing their lives.
Talking therapies are the most sought-after forms of help by mental health service users/survivors yet remains relatively scarce within overall NHS provision.
The Department of Health acknowledges the importance of talking therapy:
In an ideal world, all mental health services users should be offered some form of talking therapy or simply the opportunity to talk to someone, as the main part of their treatment.
The world is far from ideal, of course, and even having ‘the opportunity to talk to someone’ may be beyond the reach of many people experiencing mental distress.
The next step from this is to have access to some sort of talking therapy.
This means talking in a more focused way to someone outside your immediate family and social network. In many instances, this is beneficial because the listener/therapist has no axe to grind and can, therefore, listen with an open mind.