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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Should I go into Counseling for my Depression and Anxiety?


I am wondering if I should go into counseling for my depression and anxiety. My concern about going into counseling is that I would use it as a format to let out all of my negative and fearful thoughts and get someone’s feedback on them and then this would become a crutch. Did you find any use for counseling?


I learned a great deal from counseling. The best way to get something out of counseling is to decide, in advance, what it is that you want to learn. It is helpful if you can coalesce your whole confusion of concerns into a single problem that you think would be helpful as the first thing for you to solve; or a short list of specific goals. Then you will have a better handle on where the counseling is going and, more to the point, whether it has accomplished anything for you.

The problem with some counseling is that it can drag on for years with no apparent changes for the person being counseled. After three or four sessions you should compare your progress with the goal or goals you had set in the beginning and see if your time and money has been profitably spent.

If you can narrow it down to a single problem to start with then you can ask your counselor if he has worked with people with this same problem before and what general methods he will use to help you.

A counselor who listens to session after session of “storytelling” is not terribly helpful. You can do that with a recorder and listen to yourself and make just as much progress.  I have told many of my patients who were used to doing that with former counselors that people’s back story is seldom all that useful. As a matter of fact you could exchange back stories with anybody because the cure to your problem does not lay in past behavior but in present behavior.

If you don’t like the way you are feeling or acting in your day-to-day life then the real question is what can you change in your daily life to start heading in a different direction where you exhibit different feelings and different actions? It is not helpful to figure out who is to blame for where you are. 

One of my friends told me that her husband had been going to a psychiatrist for decades to cure his depression, and all the psychiatrist ever suggested was anti-depressants and then he would encourage her husband in every session to rant and rave about the abuse he had suffered from his relatives. After a lengthy period of ranting and raving, toward the end of the session, the psychiatrist would hand her husband a pillow and tell him to "let out his feelings" and “punish” his aggressor by beating on the pillow. This kind of counseling I consider practically useless. The point is not to act out your fear and anger but deal with the pain of the repressed fear that is the source of most of our problems. There may be many people to blame for why you are the way you are, but there is only one person who can heal you and that's you. And you can only heal yourself in the present, not the past. Luckily there are many techniques to help you heal yourself.          A. B. Curtiss

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