A Little Talking Goes a Long Way

Jeremy Sharp, PhD therapy Leave a Comment

If you haven’t checked out Tara Parker-Pope’s “Well Blog” in the New York Times, it’s worth a look. She’s provided a lot of material for my own blog, and this entry is no exception.

recent guest post by a psychiatrist, Dr. Jeff Deitz, provided more anecdotal evidence that talk therapy is a powerful tool in helping others. This is is the second post from a psychiatrist in recent weeks to support talk therapy rather than sticking solely to medication management. Dr. Deitz describes a recent incident in which a long-term patient called him in crisis, asking for a same-day appointment. Over the course of the session, he utilized empathy, re-framing, and gentle challenge to help the patient shift from a significantly depressed mood to a more positive one. Dr. Deitz himself acknowledges that this is not revolutionary therapy by any means; he simply provided the patient with a new point of view and a confident demeanor for her to mirror.

What I like about this post is Dr. Deitz’s use of neuroscience in explaining how talk therapy is helpful. He discusses mirror neurons, for example, which help us attune to others by firing in a way that matches another’s mood. I’ve seen this phenomenon at work in my own practice; often clients come in feeling completely overwhelmed, but they leave with a renewed sense of hope that comes from simply interacting with someone (me) who has confidence in their coping skills.

While seeking therapy from a trained professional is preferable, it’s not always necessary. If you have a friend with good listening skills and the ability to inspire hope amidst confusion, they can be just as helpful in the short term as a therapist. And both can be more helpful than medication, especially anti-depressants, which can take weeks to start helping you feel better.

Happy talking 🙂

Jeremy

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