“Talk to me!” How many times have you been asked, pleaded with, to speak? How often have you withheld speaking? What is it about speech, talking, the voice, that has such tremendous impact?

It has, in part, to do with the power of command over experience. When we talk about an experience, we, so to speak, ‘own’ it. We give it words, which when spoken is also sound, with a rhythm, a rate, a cadence, a volume, a pitch. It carries meaning.

Talking, and listening, is at the very basis of all relationships. Too often, things are left unsaid and relationships can suffer. We can find anxieties, depressions, confusions and conflicts grow when there is something ‘unfinished’ that needs to be voiced.

There can be healing in voicing our thoughts, feelings, moods, emotions, wishes, dreams, frustrations, concerns and conflicts. For this reason, talking is an integral part of counseling and therapy, so much so, that it has been referred to as ‘the talking cure.’

It’s not entirely the talking that does it. Listening is also a critical element. Anybody can go talk to a tree or a wall, and not have the same kind of healing effects when talking to a person, who listens, and hears, and understands. Talking to animals can be effective, and in some cases more profoundly healing than talking with a person, who doesn’t really listen. 

The talking cure is about being heard and understood, accepted, and respected. In the words of one of counseling psychology’s standout figures, Carl Rogers, the talking cure requires ‘unconditional positive regard’ on the part of the listener. And yet, to be heard, one must speak. Speaking is not the same as writing, or typing. One can gain some benefit from expressing their narrative in written form. Journaling, as it is called, can help organize one’s thinking, making it more coherent, and understandable, to oneself. Speaking is more visceral, and more potent. It requires using one’s voice. There is the physical aspect of our voice; and, there is a psychological aspect to it as well. When we speak, we are expressing ourselves, conveying our views, our perspective on things, our values, priorities, interests, feelings, moods, wishes and dreams as well as fears and apprehensions; we are sharing who we are with whomever we are speaking with, and who is presumably listening. That is a healing experience. To speak, to use one’s voice, to articulate experience is empowering. It gives one command over the experience.

Has the world ever been changed by anything

save the thought and its magic vehicle the Word?”

–  Thomas Mann