Overthinking is like a very quiet snake. You don’t even realize it’s present until it has wrapped itself around your neck making it hard to breathe. You find yourself in a constant whirlpool of thoughts and doubts that are impossible to escape. Talk therapy can help with that.
If overthinking becomes a regular occurrence, it can severely hinder your everyday life. In today’s fast-paced world, the need to constantly decide and make choices takes a heavy toll on our mental health. In my previous blog post, I discussed what is overthinking, how overthinking affects one’s physical or mental health. This blog post will focus on how talk therapy can help those plagued by overthinking, the various methods and finally, when should you go to a therapist?
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Table of Contents
What is talk therapy?
Talk therapy, also referred to as counseling or psychotherapy, is an extremely powerful therapeutic option for helping a person overcome their difficulties and move towards better mental health. Talk therapy is a structured and open form of conversation between a professional therapist and the individual asking for help. For those who are trying to get out of their cobweb of overthinking, talk therapy can be a huge help for them. To understand how talk therapy can help those struggling with overthinking, you need a bit of insight into overthinking itself.
What is overthinking?
At its core, overthinking is simply the repetitive and excessive contemplation of the same thought. Such people can either worry about past events, the future, or miniature details of their day-to-day lives. Those who overthink find it difficult to escape their loop of second-guesses and constant self-criticism.
Triggers and causes behind overthinking:
I have discussed the causes and triggers of overthinking in my previous blog post. So here, I will quickly recap the root causes that begin the cycle of overthinking:-
- Anxiety and stress
- Aversive past experiences or trauma
- Lack of self-confidence
- Overload of information
If you wish to understand the causes in detail, please refer to my previous blog post. Once overthinking starts, it comes with its vices and symptoms. Here are the most common signs and effects of overthinking:-
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Impairment in decision-making
- Increase in levels of anxiety
- Strains in personal and professional relationships
The first step is to understand the causes and effects of overthinking. As I mentioned before, you are not aware of this, I suggest, you go through my previous blog post on overthinking before you proceed further on this one:
Understanding the role of talk therapy in overthinking
As I mentioned before, one of the most effective therapies to help combat overthinking is talk therapy. Talk therapy allows the therapist to help the over. thinker understand their negative thought patterns, learn to question them, and finally, find ways to escape the overthinking loop. Talk therapy does not only encompass talking to the patient, it contains a variety of other therapeutic strategies as well. Some of the approaches that are a part of talk therapy are:
Talk therapy is conducted in a safe and confidential space.
Talk therapy is conducted by a licensed therapist in a confidential and safe space. The patient is made to feel comfortable and a relationship of trust is established before the therapy is started. The individuals can discuss their problems and issues without worrying about being judged.
Active listening process
Therapists engage in the process of active listening abilities so they can easily understand and empathize with the situation the individual is stuck in. They can see the problem from the eyes of the suffering individual.
Talk therapy involves collaborative problem-solving
Therapists collaborate with other therapists, mental health practitioners, and clients to identify the problem the individual is suffering from. They may also work collaboratively to devise a treatment plan for the individual.
Types of talk therapy
In talk therapy, there is no one-size-fits-all option. There are many different varieties of talk therapy. Each of these therapies has its ways of approaching overthinking and addressing all the mental health concerns. Some of the most common strategies that are a part of talk therapy are:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
This is the most common treatment method employed by therapists to help individuals overcome overthinking, anxiety, and depression. In CBT, the aim is to help individuals identify their negative thought patterns. Once the negative thought patterns have been identified, the therapist guides the individual to change the negative thinking patterns, identify the faults, and think about the problem in a more positive and problem-solving manner. The therapist teaches the individual coping strategies and methods to change the negative thoughts into positive ones. This way those negative thoughts can be changed towards constructive and rational ones.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Dialectical behavioral therapy or DBT is focused on helping the individual attain better emotional control. The strategies of DBT are dependent on boosting the mindfulness of the individual. The individual is taught to let the emotions pass and not get stuck in the constant loop of the overthinking process. The helps the person manage their intense and strong emotions and reduces the cycle of overthinking.
Mindfulness-based therapy as part of talk therapy
There are a few different mindfulness-based therapeutic procedures that can be employed by the therapist like mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) or mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) during therapy sessions to help individuals manage their stress better. Mindfulness-based techniques focus on helping the individual to stop wallowing in the past and unnecessarily worry about the future. It teaches individuals to be more present in the current moment and focus on the present. This is a method that allows people to easily counter the constant leakage of intensive thoughts.
Psychoanalysis as part of talk therapy
This is a long-term and deep therapeutic technique that is focused on the unconscious. Psychoanalysis is the branch of psychotherapy that delves into the unconscious part of the individual’s mind to identify the root causes behind the presence of intrusive thoughts and repeated loops of overthinking. Once the reasons behind overthinking and intrusive thoughts are discovered, the therapist can help you change the thought pattern from the base.
Two of the most common humanistic approaches that are used by therapists during talk therapy to help individuals are Gestalt therapy and Person-centered therapy. These therapeutic strategies focus on the personal growth of the person and reaching self-actualization. This can be immensely beneficial to those who suffer from self-criticism and self-doubt.
The primary focus of interpersonal therapy on OT is to improve the communication skills of the person and their interpersonal relationships. Most often this approach is used to address the relationship issues and mood fluctuations the person may experience.
In case a person’s overthinking habit is affecting their relationships, they can benefit immensely from interpersonal therapy-based talk therapy. This approach will help and empower them to build better communication patterns and cope with relationship-based stress more easily.
How does talk therapy address overthinking?
The primary role of talk therapy is to build a supportive and structured environment where the individuals can confront their negative thinking patterns, question them, and find positive alternatives so that they can control their habit of overthinking. Here are some of the methods by which talk therapy can successfully address the overthinking problem.
Identification of the negative thought pattern.
I have emphasized this point in my blog post about overthinking as well. If you do not know which thoughts are setting off the loop of overthinking, you will not know where to make the change. Therefore, in the talk therapy sessions, the therapist works with the individuals to help them identify the negative thoughts that occur and set off the overthinking loop. Most often these patterns include self-criticism, catastrophic thinking, and black-and-white thinking patterns.
The role of the therapist here is to help the individual identify the negative thinking pattern, primarily the instances of overthinking and which thoughts instigated the loop. To rectify the negative thought patterns, the mental health practitioner most often employs cognitive behavioral therapy. The first step is to help the client learn to differentiate between rational and irrational thoughts. with this help, the individual can identify the specific irrational thoughts that must be targeted.
Challenging the irrational belief system
The primary cause behind overthinking is cognitive distortions or irrational beliefs. These incorrect belief patterns are often ingrained quite deeply in the person’s psyche and they can’t change these beliefs without the presence of a therapeutic intervention.
In this case, the role of the therapist is to provide guidance and to guide the patient to help them identify their irrational beliefs and thoughts. They also help the individual understand how these irrational belief system is contributing to overthinking. The therapist helps the individual examine their belief patterns and place points in favor and against the beliefs.
The irrational beliefs are handled by employing cognitive restructuring by the therapist. Cognitive structuring is a component of CBT. This talk therapy approach focuses on challenging the beliefs of the person and gradually replacing the irrational or negative thoughts with ones that are balanced and realistic.
Development of different coping strategies
The reason overthinking can have such a ferocious quip on the person is that they do not possess proper coping mechanisms that can allow them to deal with and curb the anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and stress. As a part of developing coping strategies, the therapist helps the individual learn methods by which they can get their stress under control.
In this regard, the role of the therapist is to find out via trial and error what coping strategies can the individual employ. Every person is different. Therefore, the coping strategy for each individual is also different. Not every person will be comfortable and be able to employ any coping strategy. Therefore, it may take a few trial and error sessions for the individual to find the right trick and method to combat their overthinking tendencies.
The therapist may teach the individual different strategies like mindfulness techniques, relaxation therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapies. These tricks can help the person better manage their anxiety and stress. As the stress reduces, the urge to allow overthinking to take over also reduces eventually.
Boosting the self-awareness of the individuals
Those who have been overthinking for a long time start to feel that it is a way of life. They are not aware of the effect the overthinking process has on their thought patterns, view towards life, and finally, on their everyday life as well.
In such cases, the therapist guides the person to explore their own emotions, thoughts, behavior, and response patterns. The dots and the connections that the individual failed to make before are made under the guidance of the therapist.
To help the person connect the dots and understand the full picture, the therapist employs various methods like journaling, self-reflection, and introspection. The therapist may also employ mindfulness-based techniques to boost the current world awareness of the person.
Effect of talk therapy on overthinking:
Studies have shown that talk therapy has a remarkably positive effect on a person who overthinks. The therapist guides the individual regarding the different aspects of overthinking. Many research studies show that therapy has a huge positive impact on individuals who struggle with overthinking.
Research studies and findings supporting talk therapy in overthinking.
Time and time again studies have shown that talk therapy has a huge role in helping an individual struggling with overthinking. Here are some studies that act as a testament to the positive role of talk therapy in overthinking.
Effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy on overthinking
Studies have shown that CBT can have a significant impact on a person’s overthinking habit. There have been studies that examined the effect of CBT on those with chronic overthinking. The results showed that after a 12-week CBT program, the individual showed a significant reduction in the habit of overthinking and rumination. Not only did the individuals show better responses toward overthinking, but they also showed a reduction in anxiety and better decision-making abilities.
Effectiveness of mindfulness-based therapy for worry and overthinking
Other studies that focused on mindfulness-based therapy used those with overthinking and excessive worry. The findings of these studies reveal that individuals who underwent mindfulness-based therapy showed a measurable reduction in worry and overthinking habits. These individuals also showed an increase in their well-being. Those who engage in regular mindfulness practice are more aware of their fleeting thoughts. Mindfulness teaches such individuals to allow the thoughts to pass through their minds like a body of water without getting stuck.
Effects of psychoanalysis on overthinking
Not only CBT and mindfulness-based therapy but also psychoanalysis have shown promising results in the case of overthinking. A study based on psychoanalysis that was conducted over 5 years showed that psychoanalysis therapy leads to improvements in an individual’s overthinking habits. Along with a reduction of overthinking, it also boosted the self-esteem and self-awareness of such individuals.
Does the effect of talk therapy last long?
Studies have shown that the effects of talk therapy last for a long time. Those individuals who completed their talk therapy course showed that the effects of the same lasted for periods of around 6 months. This proves that the effects of talk therapy are long-lasting when it comes to managing overthinking and its effects.
Potential drawbacks of talk therapy for overthinking
So far everything points towards how amazing talk therapy is when it comes to managing overthinking for the long term. However, does this mean that overthinking has no negative effects? In this section, I will discuss the limitations and drawbacks of opting for talk therapy for overthinking:
The importance of therapeutic fit
Talk therapy only works if the individual and the therapist establish a good rapport. In case the therapist and the individual are not able to establish a comfortable relationship, the individual may feel hesitant to reveal their difficult thoughts, discuss trigger events, or talk about their traumatic past. Talk therapy is dependent on the efficiency of communication. Therefore, if there is a lack of communication between the overthinking individual and the therapist, this treatment method will not work.
If you are someone looking for a therapist to help you with overthinking, bear in mind that you may have to go through a few before finding the right person who can help you.
Commitment of time
Talk therapy is not a quick slap of band-aid type option. It needs time and dedication to show results. How much time will be needed for results to be visible will depend on the person’s overthinking levels. The stronger the impact of overthinking on the person, the longer it will take. However, if there is a massive past trauma and a long overthinking history, the therapy may go on for a long duration. Therefore, if you are planning on enrolling in talk therapy, ensure that you can commit to the time that may be needed.
Varied responses toward therapy
Every individual is different. Thus, the response of every person may be different when it comes to using talk therapy to reduce their overthinking tendencies. While there is a high probability that most people will respond favorably to overthinking, there is also a chance that some people may show a less dramatic improvement than others with the same problem. Thus, individuals going into talk therapy should manage their expectations and understand that it may take a while for the therapy to start yielding results.
Another factor that can demotivate a person from entering into talk therapy is the cost. In many cases, mental health is not covered under the insurance of the person. This expense may act as a barrier. The best way to navigate this difficulty is by opting for insurance that covers mental health therapy, employee assistance options, or low-priced community health options, if available.
Understanding and managing your expectations
Talk therapy is a highly effective option for most people. However, this does not mean that everyone will respond in the same manner. With some people, the result may start to show up within a few therapy sessions. However, in the case of others, there is a chance that more therapy sessions may be needed before the person realizes the difference in their persona and overthinking patterns. Thus, before you start therapy, you need to understand that the result may be quick or slow. There may also be setbacks. Alternatively, it may also seem that you are moving two steps forward and four steps backward. Therefore, always bear in mind that you may have your ups and downs before you start seeing an actual difference.
If you cannot be honest with your therapist, therapy will not work for you. The first step in therapy is honesty. You have to be honest and open about your problems with your therapist. make up your mind to share everything with your therapist, no matter how hard it may seem. Without honesty, it will be impossible for your therapist to understand the root causes behind your overthinking. Therefore, the more open and honest you are with your therapist, the more effective therapy will be for you.
The support system is crucial for therapy to work and help you battle overthinking. Have a group of relatives, loved ones, and friends whom you can reach out to whenever things become hard. You can also shave your therapy details, progress, and difficulties in the therapy process. When things get hard, your support circle will help you and provide additional emotional support emotionally.
At times, patients may have to go on medication to help them control their thoughts. In certain cases, those who suffer from serious levels of overthinking, or have other associated conditions, can benefit from opting for medications. Remember, a psychologist cannot prescribe you medications. Only a psychiatrist can. Thus, if you need medications, you have to visit a psychiatrist. Medications when used along with therapy can prove to be much more effective. Thus, you must bear this option in mind.
Lifestyle changes and self-care
Therapy is only one part of the solution. However, therapy is not enough to keep the overthinking away for long periods. Along with therapy, you should implement some lifestyle changes and self-care practices. You can add stress reduction methods like exercise, mindfulness, and a balanced diet to name a few.
Not skip any sessions
Skipping therapy is not an option for you if you wish to successfully battle overthinking. When you attend therapy regularly, you will reap the entire benefit of therapy. This will also help you maintain momentum and keep your overthinking as far away as possible.
It is important to know all the sides of the coin before you decide to enroll in therapy. This way, you can make an informed decision. This will help you be more consistent, focused, and determined to win your battle against overthinking.
Factors to bear in mind before you start talk therapy
Before you start on your journey of talk therapy, you should take into account a few considerations. These factors will allow you to decide which is the right time to start overthinking and how to stay consistent with your therapy sessions. Here are the aspects you should bear in mind:
- Start by acknowledging the distress and interference that overthinking is causing in your everyday life. This will help you mentally ready yourself for therapy.
- Talk therapy will take time, consistency, and commitment on your part to show results. You may need a few months before you notice a difference.
- Have a clear idea of what you aim to achieve via engaging in talk therapy. Do you wish to reduce overthinking or want to improve your decision-making ability or is it something else?
- You may have to switch your therapist a few times before you find the right one with whom you can establish the right kind of rapport and relationship.
- Explore the different therapeutic approaches available for addressing talk therapy. Research and discuss these options with your mental health professional. This will help you find the best option for your needs.
- You must go in with an open mind and be ready to bare your soul to your therapist. The more they know your problem, the better help they can provide
- Overcoming overthinking is a long-term process. It may be a few months before you start to see results. Thus, hold on to your patience and keep going, one step at a time.
Some other factors to consider:
- Have a support system in place. Keep these people updated about your therapeutic journey.
- Those with overthinking may also present other mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Their treatment modalities should address these other conditions as well.
- Therapy is just one part of healing. Along with therapy, implement other strategies like lifestyle changes and self-care practices so you can heal from within.
- Attend the therapy sessions regularly without fail. Consistency in your attendance with ensure that you receive the full spectrum of benefits of going for therapy.
Other complementary strategies for addressing overthinking
Along with talk therapy, other strategies can be used to help a person deal with overthinking. These approaches can further enhance the therapeutic efficacy of talk therapy for overthinking. Here are some of the complementary therapies that can allow you to beat overthinking :
- Mindfulness practice
- Deep breathing exercise
- Time management methods
- Exercising regularly
- Employing regular relaxation techniques
- Cognitive behavioral strategies
- Establishing boundaries
- Social support
- Limiting the overloading of information
- Regularly practicing gratitude
- Consulting with a psychiatrist.
- Opting for other creative outlets
- Employing stress reduction methods.
- Practicing self-compassion
Unfortunately, overthinking is not as uncommon as it may seem. It affects many people regularly. If not conquered, it can have a huge negative impact on one’s mental health. Allowing such a process to continue can cause an increase in anxiety, stress, and a reduction in the quality of life.
In this blog post, I have focused on how talk therapy can have a profound impact on overthinking and allow an individual to get control over it. Talk therapy can allow you to figure out the root causes of overthinking and deal with it from the base. Thus, you can target your overthinking by modifying your root thought processes. If you haven’t started talk therapy for overthinking yet, now is the time to start.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Talk therapy, otherwise known as psychotherapy or counseling, involves the person talking to a mental health professional to address their psychological and emotional issues. Talk therapy can be exhibited in many formats like psychoanalysis, cognitive behavioral therapy, and others.
Yes. Talk therapy is a very effective tool for addressing the issue of overthinking. It allows individuals to address their psychological issues, feelings, behavior, and thoughts in a controlled and structured environment so they gain insight into their thinking patterns.
Many forms of talk therapy can be employed for the treatment of overthinking. However, the most effective form of talk therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy. This method focuses on changing irrational thoughts into more rational ones. The other forms of therapy used are dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and mindfulness-based techniques.
One of the most common and effective treatments for overthinking is talk therapy. However, this is not the only solution. Some of the other solutions that you can employ are stress management methods and lifestyle changes. and medications.
Yes. Everything that you say to your therapist is completely confidential. Therapists are bound by legal and ethical obligations to maintain the confidentiality of everything the client says. However, there are certain exceptions like if the person is a risk to themselves or others.