I found myself a few days ago, explaining in the broadest possible terms to my partner, one of my client’s dilemmas which I established very quickly, through the psychotherapy process we had started. Having suffered from depression for nearly 2 years, she had been pushed from pillar to post, she’d been drugged up repeatedly, prescribed CBT and was on the waiting list for it, and had begun to identify herself as a Mental Health Patient. I stopped here in my explanations. To elaborate a little for the professional reader read on.treating depression with hypnotherapy

Diagnosis

Every which way she turned, she was faced with the seemingly unavoidable ‘fact’ that she had ‘depression’ and that, as such, she should be seen as having a Mental Health Problem. She used psychiatric terminology telling me she’d had a sense of ‘de-realisation’ – I asked if that was something that a psychiatrist had explained to her. She smiled and nodded. She then went on to list a number of weird and wonderful names that had been ascribed to her condition: she had, Mixed Anxiety Depression Disorder, and lately, Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder Borderline.  These tags and her disjointed treatment plan had done nothing except breed more lack of confidence and lack of assertiveness to take charge of her life.

Wading through this jumble of psychiatric terms and words that had been thrown at her without any due care and attention to her mental and emotional health, I sighed loudly and listened intently about what had brought her to have mental health issues at all.

And I heard very clearly what kind of pressures this young woman was shouldering that, she felt, were completely unacceptable. I’ll keep it vague due to confidentiality issues, but in essence, she felt that what she wanted in life was unacceptable to the people in her environment: friends and family. So she lived a lie. It meant she didn’t risk losing her place in her environment, but the cost was that she had to live with depression: her own unique blend of repressed expression.

What she wanted in life, wasn’t unreasonable. What she aspired to was only human. But because of her very strict background and her current challenges, she felt it was impossible for her to fulfil her real desire for her and her family’s lives. The difference between what she thought and what she felt was enormous. The censorship of her feelings suffocating. The incongruence between head and heart profoundly causing depression.

Treatment

How do we treat the root cause then of this state of mind that this lady had got herself into?  Drugs and CBT? Or are the failings of these symptomatic treatments too shallow to effect deep change?
As an integrative psychotherapist and hypnotherapist, I could have worked, for example, with hypnosis with her. In fact, I probably will do once or twice. But the question is, will a single model treatment plan be enough to teach her new habits? She may have some great realisations that do change her perspective…..for a while….. But what happens when in my opinion, inevitably one goes back to one’s former default program?  That is unless you have a range of therapeutic strategies to cause change to be reinforced through every medium.

So I asked her some questions she found it impossible to ask herself: What would happen if she did what she wanted? Who would benefit? What would be the best thing about it? What would be the worst thing about it? If she compared her circumstances with these powerful external influences in her environment, how were hers different from theirs? What would make the action she wanted to take, easier? And of course, lastly, how much did it matter what others thought of her?

Assertiveness & Confidence

These are all skills that I teach on my Assertiveness and Confidence audio course. The ability to ask and answer difficult questions inspite of fear and anxiety is essential if clients want to recover from depression or anxiety. Running away or masking these conditions does nothing but reinforce their ferocity. If you want to learn how to ask those difficult questions compassionately and sit quietly without rushing in to fix nor answer those questions for your clients, you might be interested in listening to my audio series on building Confidence and Assertiveness.  It is a 4 hour audio course with helpful handouts to guide you through the sessions.  I cover some of the main thought and language constructs that you need to know to get to see things more constructively and strategically. If this is something you think your practice and your clients could benefit from click here to read more.

In summary, instead of being intimidated by psychiatric labelling, please see your clients as perfectly sane human beings, with a very sane reaction to alot of real and perceived social pressures. All they need is a voice. 9 times out of 10 all they need is permission to be themselves.

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