Counselling can help people with depression in many ways. Each client has unique reasons for being depressed and one person’s story is never the same as another. Nevertheless, there are some patterns that often happen in therapy when working with depression, and I will outline some of these via 12 bullet points:
1. Counselling has been well described as the “talking cure.” Perhaps, if you think of your life, you will remember how much better you felt when you shared a problem with a trusted friend. A counsellor is trained in this area and offers warmth, understanding and non-judgement. A counsellor will be solely focussed on you. That is something you are likely to find rare or even unknown elsewhere in your life.
2. In counselling, you will find that issues and feelings come to the surface that you were probably either half aware of or not at all. This sudden awareness doesn’t tend to happen regularly elsewhere, but in counselling it’s an everyday occurrence. Some issues will inevitably unlock some of the causes of your depression, which will help you to unburden, think things through and move on.
3. To quote the writer, counsellor and psychologist Claire Weekes, depression is partly “the tired thoughts of a tired mind.” Counsellors are trained to help you through that tiredness and to guide you as you begin to re-find your vigour for life. What depression has sapped and removed, counselling can help put back.
4. A good counsellor will gently challenge you as well as be supportive. This is important because, outside of the counselling room, other people often have a variety of motives for giving your “their advice.” In counselling, you will receive unbiased support and be encouraged to look at options you may never have thought of before. You are also likely to find that you have a clearer head.
5. A good counsellor will help you to work out what your triggers are. They could be a mixture of things - perhaps feeling isolated or not having any purpose to your life. The therapist will help you to both address this and watch out for the danger signs when the triggers recur.
6. A counsellor will never attempt to tell you to “buck up,” or dismiss your feelings. I would be honest if I thought that you had something out of perspective, but I always encourage clients to own their feelings. It is important to respect and allow clients to fully express their pain.
7. If your depression is rooted in a painful set of experiences then a counsellor will offer expert support and understanding of that. For instance, they be able to explain the psychology of it, how it was normal and how things tend to work out in such situations. Sometimes, a little bit of psychological knowledge can help put your mind at rest.
8. If you have trapped anger, a therapist can help you find the root of that – many people are completely unaware of it until it rushes out (often dramatically) in a session. I often show clients ways to let their anger out safely and how they can then come to terms and move on from it.
9. Many people’s issues are wrapped up in childhood – even if they are not aware of it. Those issues can sometimes be extremely difficult to discuss with friends or family, but childhood issues are everyday matters to counsellors. We often enable clients to get to the root of their issues and process them.
10. Dreams can be useful because they are signs from the subconscious to the conscious. I like to help my clients work through powerful dreams and have methods to help clients remember their dreams instead of forgetting them.
11. Counsellors will encourage and support you with finding a healthy lifestyle when the depression is over. This revolves around balance. It is normally bad for us to have too much of any one thing and not enough of another.
12. When you finish therapy, you will have the comfort of knowing that there is at least one person around who knows all of your problems and can help. There maybe times in the future when just one or two sessions can help you to get through a less major problem than your depression was and nip it in the bud.
It is amazing how many clients say to me, “I only wish that I had first come here many years ago.” This can be true of recurring depression as well as other issues. Going to a counsellor can be the keystone of coming out of depression and getting to a better life.
David is a fully qualified and BACP registered Person Centred Counsellor. If you wish to talk about depression, you can book a face to face, telephone or skype video session with him by ringing 07578 100256 or emailing him at David@eastcheshirecounselling.com