Monday, April 13, 2009

Treatment for Depression: Psychotherapy or Exorcism?

I’m a fan of psychotherapy, being a 25 year veteran in its practice. In addition to positive psychology approaches, the usual subject of this blog, I’m drawn to solution focused therapies. In my mind, these include those so named as well as cognitive behavioral and allied approaches that clearly ask clients to make behavioral changes and work toward solving the problems of life. Not just talk.

But I still have lots of questions about the practice and the process. I have questions about how it’s conducted, the role of medication, where mindfulness and values fit in, if we sometimes do more harm than good, what works for whom, what doesn’t work, and so forth.

I like my clients to think about the process too and take some responsibility for the work we do together. I think it’s healthy to question my work and for clients to question it, and their role in the work.

I believe that most people can live without disabling depression. There is a lot of evidence that the relationship with the therapist is itself a helpful and healing relationship. Repairing important relationships in one’s life and beginning new ones is equally important.

Additionally, I encourage people to do a variety of things, including:

· getting out and doing things in nature and in the world
· listening to music, experiencing art, going to church, or doing whatever pulls them up
· getting support from friends and family
· talking about good things going on in life, and good things desired (not just talking about problems)

I was delighted to hear a story about African approaches to healing depression by exorcism. On the surface it seems quite unlike what I find useful, but when you dig down deep, there are many shared beliefs. It’s definitely thought-provoking. Have a listen to Andrew Solomon’s experience.

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