Two strategies to help with Depression
Search the Internet for advice on how to treat depression and you’re likely to find thousands of pages, many of which suggest the same thing: a combination of medication and individual therapy. So rather than reiterate treatment modalities, here are some specific exercises that many of my clients have found helpful.
In life there are countless things that happen to us every day, many of which we can not control. The "hook" exercise is intended to help recognize that though we often can't control our environment, we can control our response to it. It is hard for anyone to recognize this seemingly simple fact, but for the depressed person, it is often so complex as to be paralyzing. This is why the "hook" exercise, in all its simplicity is so often an appropriate and manageable first step in climbing up out of the darkness of depression. The "hook" analogy suggests that the client memorize a simple script to self-recite three times (morning, afternoon and early evening) a day. The outcome of the script helps clients increase self-awareness and their ability to recognize life’s external triggers simply by saying the word "hook." Once the client becomes competent in impulsively responding with a new awareness (a process that typically takes about 2 to 3 months), the more difficult task of replacing unhealthy feelings of fear, anger and hopelessness with feelings of safety, confidence and acceptance is put into place. During this phase of the exercise, clients use cognitive restructuring, relaxation, and rational emotive therapy to effectively swim off the hook.
It's Good To See You.
In working with adolescents with depression, it is important to give parents strategies to help their children. This exercise is the simplest and tends to yield the most immediate results. Adolescents with depression are often very frustrating to their parents. It is common for parents, at best, to feel more detached from their depressed child and, at worst, (well, there are worse behaviors) to outwardly exhibit behavior the child perceives as extreme disappointment and even hatred. "It's Good to See You" suggests that the parent(s), upon first seeing his or her child in the afternoon or evening, after having been apart (child at school...parent at work or home) all day, simply state "It's good to see you." The parent is not to ask any questions, even one as seemingly innocuous as "how was your day?" The parent can address other questions or concerns later in the evening (after at least 30 minutes have passed). The point of "It's good to see you" is to slowly plant in the adolescents’ brain the notion that Mom and Dad think positive thoughts about him or her throughout their day (even if this is only true on a subconscious level). Parents have a right to be angry and frustrated with their children, but most parents’ anger is based on fear and worry. Beyond these painful feelings, at the core of everything is love for their children. In order to remember that love at their core, "It's good to see you" suggests that parents use an external trigger like the handle to the door of the home and replace it with a loving image of their child. The image that seems to work best most often is that of holding the child for the first time as a newborn. This helps parents to set aside frustration and stress and genuinely express when they see their adolescent for the first time since the morning "It's good to see you." Adolescents are unaware that their parents have been given this exercise ... instead, within two weeks they typically report that they feel their relationship with their parents has improved, and, often, so have their feelings of confidence and motivation.