Counselling for Depression: How to Treat Depression With Therapy

counseling techniquesIf you have been diagnosed with depression, suspect that you may have depressive-like symptoms, or have been feeling down lately— you are not alone.  Depression affects over 350 million people in the world today.  If you suffer from feeling anxious, guilty, or worthless on a regular basis, you may want to look into counseling for depression.

There are a number of effective counseling techniques that are used to treat and overcome this mood disorder.  To help you better understand depression and the types of counseling techniques available to you, let’s take a look at the different types of depression and 5 different counseling techniques for depression.

Types of Depression

Before you begin looking for the right counseling techniques for depression, it is essential that you are aware of the type of depression that you may be suffering from.

Major Depressive disorder:  Impairs a person’s ability to work, sleep, eat, or function normally.

Dysthymic disorder:  A milder form of major depression that can appear to develop into a part of an individual’s personality.

Bipolar disorder: This is also known as manic-depression and shows itself in mood alternations and swings.

Cyclothymic disorder:  This disorder comes in cycles where a person’s mood will alternate between less serve mania and less serve depression.

Postpartum depression:  This occurs one to six months after a woman gives birth to a child, and will manifest itself in a mild form of depression.

Other types:  Depression can also manifest itself in mood disorders as a result of a medical condition, a substance-induced mood disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and a premenstrual dysphonic disorder.

Counseling Techniques for Depression

Behavioral Therapy:  Behavior therapy focuses on changing a person’s external behavior.  The idea behind this focuses on the fact that the person is depressed because of their behavior.  The therapist will hope that by making changes in their behavior, they will be able to control and alter the feelings of depression that one may be experiencing.  This counseling technique works well for some people, but it can also still leave underlying causes of depression untouched.   As such, it can be the first step in helping a person recognize some of their tendencies that may be causing depression.  By engaging in behavioral therapy, a person can work on:

  • Self-monitoring
  • Develop new activities to change their current behaviors
  • Role playing to help develop new skills
  • Behavior modification rewards to encourage positive changes in their behavioral patterns

Cognitive Therapy:  Cognitive therapy focuses on an individual’s thought processes and seeks to find solutions in their mind rather than in their behaviors.  Cognitive therapy will help to change negative thoughts in a person’s mind that can cause depression.  These can be such thoughts as: pessimism, hopelessness, self-criticism, and unrealistic outlooks and expectations that they may project on themselves or on the world.  When used in counseling, cognitive therapy helps to distinguish between important issues that are affecting someone’s life and trivial issues that do not necessarily have to be addressed.

  • Cognitive therapy is usually a short-term treatment option and more affordable than other types of therapy.
  • It is a first line treatment that helps a person overcome certain maladaptive behaviors.
  • Cognitive therapy is empirically supported and is known to effectively help treat patients.

Interpersonal Therapy:  The counseling technique associated with interpersonal therapy focuses on how social interaction will affect depression in a person and what can be done to help with that. Interpersonal therapy looks to understand how people react to social situations and the development of depression symptoms that are associated with interpersonal behaviors.  For instance, a person could associate certain fears, anxiety, and fantasies with social interaction, causing them to feel depression.  Interpersonal therapy looks to recognize four basic problems of depression in social situations:

  1. Unresolved grief:  if grief in a person is delayed or lost for a certain amount of time, those feelings may surface as other symptoms later on.
  2. Role disputes:  This has to do with clashing expectations concerning certain relationships that can lead to depression in a person.
  3. Role transitions:  Depression can surface with life transitions and role changes if a person does not respond well to change.
  4. Interpersonal deficits:  If an individual has trouble maintaining quality relationship, they can become depressed.

Psychotherapy:  This form of counseling is mostly associated with treating a mental illness in a person.  The aim of psychotherapy with a counselor is to reach the core causes of a person’s depression.  This makes all aspects of a person’s life up for consideration and acknowledgment when talking with a counselor.  As such, the individual receiving counseling will need to feel comfortable with their therapist so that they can be open in discussing all the aspects of their life, no matter how painful or personal they may be.  Psychotherapy can take on various different formats, such as:

  • Individual Therapy:  This involves one-on-one work between a patient and therapist.  This counseling technique will allow the patient the full attention of the therapist.  However, it will not show the therapist how the patient interacts in a group setting.
  • Family Therapy:  This technique is most useful when if certain dynamics within the family group need to be addressed.
  • Group Therapy:  Group therapy involves anywhere between three to fifteen patients.  This technique of multiple patients offers the opportunity to give and receive support in a group setting, which can make coping with depression easier.
  • Couple’s Therapy:  This technique of psychotherapy is geared towards married couples or partners who are looking to improve their relationships, dynamics, and functionality as a couple.

Psychodynamic Counseling:  This type of counseling for depression is associated with Freudian counseling techniques.  It places full emphasis on the person’s unconscious mind and subconscious thought process.  Instead of locating alternative causes, psychodynamic counseling will look to uncover and unearth certain conflicts and issues that have developed during the patient’s childhood.  The goal is psychodynamic counseling techniques is to resolve patient conflicts that could be causing them depression, and show them how to better copy with any conflicts or issues that they are experiencing.  Here are some of the main techniques and approaches that counselors may use for dealing with depression using psychodynamic counseling:

  1. Free association:  To help explore hidden meaning behind an individual’s personality or motivation.
  2. Resistance:  Determine why certain behaviors and responses can surface.
  3. Dreams:  The therapist will help you identify symbols and meanings behind dreams and how they motivate your behavior.
  4. Transference:  The manner in which a patient behaves and feelings towards their therapist can also translate into how they go about their relationships with other people or events in their life.

Benefits of Counseling for Depression

Individuals who suffer from anxiety or depression can benefits from the effects of counseling.

  • Counseling offers practical help for those who are suffering from depression.
  • Counseling techniques can help teach and give you the skills needed to overcome depressive thinking, as well as looking into its causes and reason for onset.
  • Counseling provides an opportunity for those affected to talk about their feelings openly and in a safe environment to help them find their way out.
  • Counselors can be affected in encouraging their patients to open up, and develop social skills so that they can apply in friendships and to fulfill affection, intimacy, pleasure, etc., can be fulfilled.
  • Counseling techniques can teach you how to relax and respond effectively if feelings of depression surface.
  • Counseling techniques will provide a safe and supportive environment using various strategies and therapies.

Treat Depression Effectively

Counseling for depression can prove to be extremely useful and can often times work better than drug therapy, given that the techniques learned are applied and used effectively.  Meditation is also a great way to regulate your emotions if you suffer from depression.  If your therapist has recommended meditation, or if you are looking for ways to combat depression, enroll in this course to learn how to regulate your emotions through mindfulness meditation.