I help my clients take steps to prevent and overcome depression. My focus in depression counselling is on helping them build activities into their lives to bring pleasure and a sense of meaning/fulfillment, change their thinking toward a positive and more balanced perspective, set goals to address current stressful situations and heal from the effects of difficult past events, and take care of their physical well-being.
BEHAVIOURS AND ACTIVITIES
People who are depressed are often lacking in pleasurable and confidence-building activities. I help clients begin taking the steps to get more of these mood-boosting behaviours into their lives. Looking forward to these activities can make a big difference in keeping your mood on the right track. I also help clients to be aware of and take steps to reduce the number of activities which have a negative effect on their moods. Finally, I help my clients learn and practice skills such as assertiveness, relaxation, visualization and rehearsal to prepare for challenging situations, and social skills.
THOUGHTS AND BELIEFS
Thoughts and beliefs play a central role in depression. In my role of Calgary psychologist, I therefore help my clients learn skills to restructure their thinking in a manner which leads their mood to improve. I target three levels of thinking with different cognitive skills and techniques: (1) I help clients use thought records to restructure their negative automatic thoughts which they have in response to everyday events; (2) I help clients perform behavioural experiments to test and challenge assumptions they carry with them into situations which contribute to negative mood; (3) Finally, I work with clients on the deepest level of thinking—negative core beliefs—which are usually at the root of severe or chronic depression. I help clients ‘chip away’ at negative core beliefs which are driving their chronic depression and help them construct more favourable core beliefs which have positive effects on their mood.
LIFE EVENTS AND SITUATIONS—CURRENT AND PAST
Stressful life events such as difficulty coping with demands at work, relationship conflicts and financial problems make a person prone to depression unless they are addressed. I set goals with clients to help them take steps to address these unpleasant situations. Events from a person’s past such as abuse, assault, bullying and other traumatic circumstances often lead a person to be depressed. I help clients heal from the psychological effects of these past events so that this contributing factor to depression is elmininated.
Taking care of one’s physical well-being is fundamental to preventing and overcoming depression. In this regard, I set goals with clients to ensure that they are aware of the importance of getting enough quality sleep, eating properly, and being examined and treated for physical and mental health issues. I also discuss with clients any medications they are taking for physical or mental health issues and, where appropriate, suggest that they consider having a discussion with their physician regarding medication they are currently taking or from which they could possibly benefit.