What About Counseling Works?

Have you ever been to counseling? Did it help? I have been many times and it has helped many times and other times it has not.

I don’t know if it is where I was at or where the counselor was at, but the times it didn’t work were in particular with this one therapist who didn’t seem too confident in herself. Quite frankly, she looked like a deer in headlights which surprised me because she was an older lady so I assumed she had years of experience, but who knows, maybe she was a recent graduate.

On the other hand, I was pretty sick at the time. My symptoms were out of control with much hypomania and anxiety going on, so many of her tactics flew in one ear and right out the other. It was probably more of a “it’s me not you” thing going on.

The times that therapy works, however, oh those glorious times…like today. I went in there wound tight as a watch and left walking a little taller, out into a world that seemed a lot brighter than when I went in.

My good therapist, rephrasing my feelings back to me, validating my emotions, asking insightful questions and providing practical and logical feedback. What a grand lady!

Tell me, has counseling ever helped you?

What’s Good About Depression?

depression

Researchers say there are some positives to having depression. I am not so sure I agree with them. Let’s take a look at what they are saying:

  • Depression makes you a better problem-solver because you need to figure out (usually with the help of a therapist) how to deal with your existing symptoms and the problems they cause in your life.

My thought on this is if we knew how to deal with our problems in the first place, many of us wouldn’t have became depressed to begin with.

  • Depression forces you to learn how to cope, again, usually with the help of a therapist or professional of some sort. Admittedly, researchers say that those who are depressed often initially choose poor coping mechanisms such as drinking.

So what I am hearing is that many of us had poor coping mechanisms which probably increased our chances of becoming depressed in the first place. I don’t see the positive in this.

  • You have better relationships because those who are depressed become better, as part of their healing process, at prioritizing what is and who is important in their lives.

Again, this suggests that before professional help, we did not have the ability to prioritize well. I know this was the case for me as I put financial security above my relationships and my own mental health which lead to a breakdown that almost cost me my life.

  • Depression can make us more compassionate to others going through hard times.

This I totally agree with, hands down! You can’t really understand what a person is going through unless you have been there yourself.

  • We are better at dealing with stress after going through the process, with a therapist, of figuring out what went wrong and how to avoid or manage future stressful times.

While this is true, again, it points to the fact that we did not deal with stress very well before the depression took over.

  • We are more realistic because we better understand what we have control over and what we don’t in life.

Again, we do now, but not before the depression took hold.

  • We can detect deception because we tend to have a more “realistic” view on life.

Realistic? How about pessimistic or cynical – those would be my choice of words.

Don’t get me wrong – I love that research is trying to say there are benefits to having depression. It is all about looking at the glass half-full, I suppose. But, if your depression is anything like mine, there wasn’t any water in the glass to begin with. What are your thoughts on this?

Writing Moment by Moment #23 and #24

#23 – A beautiful person gave me permission to accept help without feeling guilty and to take extra-special care of myself because I am “going through a healing period” which I need not minimize.  A weight lifted from me in that moment.

 

#24 – I think that I finally get what “mindfulness” means versus distraction.  Here’s a fun fact:

“Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density…in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.”  ~Psychiatry Res. 2011 Jan 30;191(1):36-43. Epub  2010 Nov 10

Now, to practice it…

What moment are you grateful for today?  I had three wonderful “in the moment” moments today – the above two and a third which I posted here.

For more on “Writing Moment by Moment” click here.