STOP Saying Talk Therapy Doesn’t Work

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Y’all. I’m fired up.

Fired.

Up.

I recently read an Instagram post by someone I respect talking about how talk therapy doesn’t work to treat trauma. Does everyone need therapy/counseling to work through trauma? No. But.

Talk therapy, generally speaking, means mental health professionals talking with clients to work toward healing. To claim you don’t believe it works, means you’re claiming that talking and using language to work through issues doesn’t work…….???

Despite the fact that training new counselors/therapists is my profession, let’s look at this.

“Talk therapy,” has no agreed upon definition. Even body work like EMDR work still requires talking… so…?

I’m teaching a trauma counseling class this semester, and I found the idea that talk therapy doesn’t work in treating trauma deeply offensive. It obviously depends the on the rapport you have with the therapist and WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT. This person posted about how rehashing trauma isn’t helpful. Yes, I agree, and it shows how ill-informed you are (or your therapist was) about trauma work if that is your argument against talk therapy working for treating trauma.

Any counselor or therapist with adequate training KNOWS you don’t have someone simply relive/talk about their trauma in detail without any intention or purpose beyond that. Come on. Can we formulate more thoughtful arguments than that? If you have a beef with a particular approach or theoretical orientation to counseling or “talk therapy” then please, state it. I like some better than others, but to state that talk therapy doesn’t work is just ill-informed and is rather click-baity.

I stopped myself from responding, but here is the trauma counseling structure I promote regardless of theoretical orientation.

Stabilize (ensure the person has coping strategies, BUILD them with people, using body work: breathing, movement, body scans, safe calm space visualizations, polyvagal exercises, etc).

Reprocess traumatic material (COULD include narrative work if the person agrees to it, but you do NOT need to relive a trauma or rehash it in detail to heal. You can focus on the present.)

And re-integration/relapse prevention.

I’m so tired of people making comments about therapy/counseling who don’t know what they’re talking about/are not trained as therapists and make a generalized sweeping argument based on anecdotal stories of BAD THERAPY.

It happens!

Like, you don’t go to a doctor who offends you and write off medicine altogether. Or maybe you do, but then you also probably have a large problem… you get what I mean.

I’m a good therapist.

I’m a good trauma therapist.

And I talk to people.

Talk therapy works, my clients would tell you. And when I don’t click with someone it’s NOT because talk therapy doesn’t work. And furthermore, if you’re not talking through trauma, what the hell are you suggesting? This individual talks about IFS (internal family systems THERAPY)… which I am familiar with… and guess what… that requires talking and processing too? Sigh.

Thanks for listening to my rant.

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