Month: May 2018

treating depression

It’s not your fault. Depression is not a choice and you can’t just “choose to be happy.”

One of the more powerful statements I make to my clients regarding depression or any strong emotion is: “You cannot control your feelings.” You’ve tried that, right? How many times have we heard, “Stop being depressed!” “Stop being angry!” “Stop being anxious!” “Stop being so insecure!” How well did it work for you? It didn’t, right?

We can control our actions, our responses. We can change our thinking patterns over time, with lots of practice. But we cannot control our feelings.

The symptoms of depression make depression worse. What that means is: depression makes your feelings and thoughts lie to you. Depression says, “You are alone.” “No one cares.” “You’re not important.” “You have no right to feel this way.” Depression encourages you to isolate, stay in bed, or lash out at those around you. Naturally, doing these things makes you feel worse, separates you from loved ones, and reinforces the dark thoughts and despair.

When we give in to the symptoms, we become more depressed. We cannot choose our feelings, but we can choose our actions. We can begin to change what we believe about ourselves and our symptoms. We celebrate the little things in depression recovery, because I know how much harder the little things become. Getting up, showering, exercising, talking to a loved one, sharing, engaging in a hobby, volunteering, petting a dog, getting outside, scheduling a counseling session… we celebrate these victories! They are a start.

There is an expression used in DBT (a therapy used to treat depression, among other things) that says, “Just don’t make it worse!” And since those actions are ways of not giving into the things that make depression worse, it is a huge step in the right direction. Getting started is often the hardest part. I would be honored to partner with you in dealing with your depression. You are not alone, and there is help!

Being together

How to talk to your spouse about counseling

I often hear, “I would love to come to counseling, but my husband/wife won’t come.” I get it. Marriage counseling is often thought of as the last thing you do before you get divorced. There is a misconception that you should only go to marriage counseling if you are in crisis/on the verge of divorce. There are also many folks who go for a session or 2, so that they can say they “tried counseling” even though their minds were already made up and they didn’t actually try at all.

The truth is most couple’s wait 6 years to come to therapy after the issues begin (Gottman). That means, most people do wait until they are in crisis/make or break/verge of divorce mode. And this is a huge problem. Waiting too long means one person (likely the one asking for counseling 6 years ago) hasn’t felt loved in a long time, and is now on the verge of leaving or filing for divorce. At this point, the other partner finally gets it and offers counseling instead. It’s often too late at that point. The spouse who hasn’t felt loved in a long time is now numb. This numbness is why marriage counseling will have less odds of being helpful. Numb folks won’t make the effort (they’ve emotionally given up) and have usually already made up their minds. So, now that we’ve established the importance of not waiting until you’re in crisis mode…what are some tips for getting your partner to come?
  1. Bring up your desire for counseling during a time when you aren’t fighting or distracted by something else.
  1. If you get pushback, say that you want to understand his/her reasons for not wanting to go. Once you know why, you can better address the real issue with kindness and compassion.
  1. Offer a compromise. Say, “Would you be willing to come to one session? It would mean so much to me. If your fears are confirmed in the first session, we do not have to go back. If we feel as though the counselor can’t help us, we don’t have to go back. There will be no pressure, I’m just asking you to give it a chance.”
  1. Then, express why you want to go now, and not wait until you are in crisis. “If we go now, we can have a better marriage, and prevent things from getting worse and being harder to fix in the future.”
Remember, counseling can be a really scary thing for some people. Unknown things usually are. Be compassionate, but firm. If you think you need marriage counseling, you probably do. Don’t give up! I’ve found that I can win skeptics in the first session because I have a practical plan and structure for marriage sessions and because I incorporate humor with compassion, and tough love.

5 reasons to try counseling

This is not even close to an exhaustive list of the benefits of counseling, but here are 5 simple reasons to give it a chance: You …

treating depression

It’s not your fault. Depression is not a choice and you can’t just “choose to be happy.”One of the more powerful …

How to talk to your spouse about counseling

I often hear, “I would love to come to counseling, but my husband/wife won’t come.” I get it. Marriage counseling is …