How can Counselling Help People Suffering from Depression?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: David Seddon MA, BA, Accred - helping couples and individuals to a better life
10th October, 2012
There are many ways that Counselling can help people with depression and this article can’t cover all of them. It is important to note that every client has unique reasons for being depressed and their story is never the same as another. Even so, there are some things that tend to happen in therapy when working with depression and I am going to outline some of them via 12 bullet points:
- Counselling has been well described as the “talking cure.” If you think of your life, you will know how much better you often feel when you share a problem with a trusted friend. With a counsellor, you get that feeling plus also their training, warmth, understanding and non-judgement – and unlike with even your best friends, the counsellor will be solely focused on you. Getting 100% focus from people is something you are likely to find rare or even unknown elsewhere in your life.
- As you talk you will certainly find that issues and feelings come to the surface that you were either half aware of or not at all. This happens all the time in counselling and it doesn’t tend to happen regularly anywhere else. Some of these issues will inevitably unlock particular causes of your depression and will help you to unburden, think through and move on.
- Depression is partly, to quote Claire Weekes, “the tired thoughts of a tired mind.” Counsellors are trained to help you through that tiredness and to help you begin to re-find your vigor for life. Depression will have sapped and removed it - counselling helps put it back.
- Counsellors will be gently challenging as well as supportive. This is important because, outside of the counselling room, other people often have a variety of motives for giving your “their advice” and will often view your issues through the lens of “their own stuff.” Counsellors are trained not to project their own stuff onto your problems. In counselling you may find a clearer head, receive unbiased support and be encouraged to look at options you may never have thought of before.
- A good counsellor will help you to work out what your triggers are. They could be a variety of things - maybe feeling isolated or not having any purpose to your days. Whatever it is, the therapist will help you to both address this and watch out for the danger signs when the triggers recur.
- A counsellor will not attempt to tell you to “buck up,” or dismiss your feelings. Although he or she will be honest if they think you have something out of perspective, vitally, they will encourage you to own our feelings. They will respect your situation and allow you to fully express your pain. They understand that being depressed is a serious issue.
- If your depression is rooted in a painful set of experiences then a counsellor will offer you expert support and understanding of that. He or she may also be able to explain to you the psychology of it and how many patterns of depression are normal, and how things tend to work out in such situations. Sometimes, just a little bit of theory or psychological knowledge can help put your mind at rest.
- 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. They can also show you ways to let the anger out safely and how to then come to terms and move on from it.
- Often some issues are wrapped up in childhood – even if we believe that they are not. Those issues can sometimes be extremely difficult to discuss with friends or family, who are either likely to have their own very entrenched viewpoint on it or will just not want to “go there;” but childhood issues are everyday matters to counsellors. They will enable you to get to the root of the issue and process it.
- Sometimes dreams can be useful as they are signs from the subconscious to the conscious. Many therapists like to help their clients work through powerful dreams and also have methods to help their clients remember them.
- Counsellors can encourage and support you with finding a healthy lifestyle when the depression is over. This revolves around balance. Too much of any one thing and not enough of another is normally bad for us.
- When you finish therapy, you always know that there is 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 of counselling, “I only wish that I had first come here many years ago.” This can be true of depression as well as other issues. Working with a counsellor can be the keystone of coming out of depression and getting to a better life.
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