How Does Talking Therapy Work?

Many of us know counselling/ psychotherapy is meant to be good for us & we have a lot to gain - but how does talking therapy work? Whats the advantage of having a therapist to talk to? Why would you want to pay a stranger to discuss your confidential issues? Your dirty laundry even?

We all will want different things from therapy - change, support, a different perspective, education, greater understanding, someone to care for us. So so how does therapy actually work once you starting talking to a therapist?

Below are my top ten ways of explaining how talking therapy works.

British Muslim Counsellor
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  • When you have space (that word again) you can think and speak without being influenced by other peoples thoughts, feelings or actions. This gives you the freedom to get some clarity on your true feelings and thoughts.


  • By sharing your worries with a counsellor who is kind, empathetic, caring, considerate leaves you feeling supported and a space for self exploration. From there grows greater self awareness/acceptance leading to greater confidence in ones own autonomy. This in return leaves you feeling more confident in your abilities to tackle the issues/worries you may be facing.


  • When talking to a qualified professional in a confidential space who offers you a non-judgmental environment you are more likely to bring to the surface things you may feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about. This means you eventually will not fear talking about uncomfortable things with your therapist. You now longer will have to keep things bottled up. there will be a feeling of "relief". 


  • Once you begin to talk about the "uncomfortable things" for you with your therapist, they are shared and brought to the surface. No longer hidden. For some clients this can feel a relief - that someone understands and accepts them for who they are. This process alone - you can  feel lighter. This can for some be the beginning of "increasing awareness".


  • By you feeling safe to explore whats really going on for you and through your counsellor being gently curious and open can lead to allowing you to challenge your own preconceived notions and assumptions. The ones that have kept you stuck in unhelpful thought patterns. Some can be coping strategies which may have protected you up until now, but which have now become outdated and just need replacing or modifying to the present time.







  • When your story is comfortably challenged due to discrepancies with empathy, kindness and genuine care you will not feel judged, shamed or defensive. You won't close down. This happening opens the door for reflections about new or refreshed possibilities and how you view things can emerge. Or how those people close to you might view things also opens the way of a fresh way of thinking.


  • Sometimes negative feelings may surface when your assumptions are kindly challenged. Thats O.K too. My attempt will be to foster an environment of openness  and honesty, where you won't feel frightened to share this with me. It may feel a little uncomfortable at the start telling me that you feel offended or angry. But we will work through this together. The aim is by being authentic in the therapeutic relationship it will help you develop communication skills to use in your everyday life.  


  • Having this safe space can allow you to explore more deeply past traumas (if thats where you want to go. I will always check with you first). Sharing begins some healing, rather than it always being "alone" in your "head".  This can be start of understanding and letting go of unhelpful thoughts & emotions. 


  • When you feel heard and can really connect with what's going on for you .... its then you get these "aghhhhh  light bulb moments".  By gaining a refreshed awareness  you may also find clarity on what is stopping you taking the action you need to make change. That is if you want to change - it may be enough for you to now accept those things because you understand them more.


  • Pyschoeducation of psychological theory can help you feel validated - seeing a theory or research for example "effects of childhood trauma in adults" can give you a better understanding of your situation.  This can give you confidence in your thoughts, emotions or actions.  It can also offer new coping strategies  to support you in everyday life.


  • My all time saying to clients is "The only person you can change is you. By you changing things around you will change. When a client first enters therapy - it usually doesn't mean much this phrase, sometimes desperate for others around them to change. I usually repeat this most sessions and eventually a client will say "I get that now". Thats when I know as a therapist we are making good progress.




So Why Does Therapy Work?

As a therapist I still wanted to know "Why Therapy Works" I wanted to understand the science behind all of this. So thats what I went and found out. The science & a further explanation to understanding why therapy works