Therapy for Depression
How often have you thought, heard, or were told that: “If you are feeling persistently sad, have no interest in life, feel like you are in a funk, feel restless, irritable, like crying, and feel inadequate, you must be depressed”?
The diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder is a true biologically based disease, AND what is also true is that we DON’T have to have a biologically based disease to feel depressed.
So, why do so many people feel depressed without having the actual disorder? Well, it has to do with the way we “metabolize” emotions.
What does this mean exactly? Too often, we block our emotions. Diana Fosha wrote “People disconnect from their emotional experience, afraid of being overwhelmed, humiliated, or revealed as inadequate by the force of feelings, only to pay the price later in depression, isolation, and anxiety.” No wonder, people often start seeking counseling and support after some major life events happened—when blocking no longer works, but instead creates more distress.
Our emotions are wired in us and automatic. They are massagers to what we need and what has to happen next. For example, if I feel afraid, I need to seek safety; if I feel angry, I need to take actions and speak up or set a boundary. If I feel sad, I need comfort or support. Unfortunately, the less we understand our feelings, the less effectively we are able to RESPOND to ourselves (and others). In fact, we end up REACTING to our feelings (blowing up at others, shaming ourselves, or people pleasing), AND protecting or defending ourselves from our feelings. As a consequence, we lose touch with how we feel, and that is when depression comes in. Depression is really a suppression of our emotions. During therapy for depression, we will discover together what feelings you might have suppressed, and we will work toward gradually connecting with your core feelings.
Contrary to popular beliefs, we cannot control our emotions (but we can control our behaviors!), we can only respond to them when they appear. This is exciting news! One of my clients said it best: “For all of my life I tried controlling how I feel (by trying to change my attitude and be happy and grateful), and each time I couldn’t, I felt even worse about myself, so to know that I cannot control my emotions brings me so much relief and confirmation that there is nothing wrong with me.” This client was in a constant fight against biology—her wired-in response to feel—and simple education about how emotions work helped her tremendously. Once we laid the foundation for that understanding, we started working with that client on responding effectively to herself when these feelings came up.
How are we going to work with depression?
Well, it is important to first help you understand how depression shows up in you, and that it is only a part of you—not the whole you, as depressions tried convicting you of. Together, we will become aware how depression is trying to protect you from feeling some overwhelming feelings, but instead of protecting you, depression is making your life miserable. Depression counseling is about first making your implicit ways of coping explicit, and then it is about developing flexibility in the way you cope. Together, we would want to discover a way to “outsmart” your depression, and yet do that in a respectful and healing way.
Understanding is only one part of the work, and understanding alone does not bring enough long-lasting results. What does bring results? PRACTICE brings results! Practice with FEELING your CORE EMOTIONS is what brings RELIEF to depression. Moreover, the true transformation happens when we can learn how to feel the core emotions, deal with whatever life throws at us, AND we can relate to one another—all at the very same time.
Today, I want to bring you hope. I want to empower you by not only educating you about what depression really is, but also by “practicing” with you during our sessions how to “metabolize” the underlying feelings that, when left “unprocessed,” drive depression. I want to bring hope and tell you that if we create a safe environment, it is possible for you to learn how to be with your own emotional experiences so that you can experience joy, calm, content, and confidence.
How am I different from other therapists?
One of the main differences in how I work compared to other therapists is that instead of sending you home with homework that you have to do on your own, I want to create an experience WITH YOU in our session so that you can take a piece of that experience and experiment with applying it in your environment.
What modalities do I use?
In my practice, I use two primary models of therapy—Emotionally Focused Therapy and Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy. These two brilliant approaches to therapy were created by Dr. Sue Johnson and Diana Fosha. Among others, Hilary Jacobs Hendel, Peter Levine, Daniel J. Siegel, Kristin Neff, Brene Brown, Tara Brach, and Gabor Mate also greatly influenced my practice.
Thanks to these wonderful approaches to counseling, I focus not only on the content of the stories that you will bring to me, but most importantly, I focus on fostering awareness of your emotional life as it unfolds during talking about that story line. I will encourage you to pay attention to your physical body as it connects and organizes your emotions and thoughts.
If any of what you read spoke to you at some level, or brought in some questions, or maybe even provided a glimmer of hope, please give me a call or email me. I would be honored to guide you on your own journey—just the way I have been (and still am) guided on mine. You can call, text me at (303) 898-6140 or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org