How Does Gestalt Therapy View Depression?
Gestalt Psychotherapy does not view depression as an illness that the right kind of method will get rid off. In Gestalt thinking, depression holds a meaning for the client’s life and therefore also brings the potential for meaningful and transformative change. Symptoms of depression such as numbness, low mood, suicidal feelings, self critical thoughts, isolation, etc. are often understood to be the expressions of a loss of our vitality.
In Gestalt Therapy depression is seen as a manifestation of feelings and needs that have literally been ‘depressed’ or held down for too long. We may have learned to live with unsatisfied needs in order to protect ourselves or others. We may have experienced that the overt expression will not be supported in our environment and learned to suppress a vital part of us, which we fear may not be welcomed.
Depressing the flow of emotional needs for too long can become a habit, a depressive adjustment. And once a pattern is established, we risk to gradually lose touch with ourselves, our environment and the things that can support and nourish us. It is a withdrawal of contact from whatever it is that gives our existence true meaning. Depression is therefore seen as a symptom, a reminder that we need to attend to something urgently. If we simply worked to get rid of the symptom, we would lose the message that the symptom holds. Gestalt therapy therefore believes that a genuine reconnection with ourselves, our needs, the environment around us and supportive human beings will bring relief from the symptoms of depression and reconnect us with the flow of life.
Counselling for depression
Having worked in the NHS I am familiar with working with a wide range of people looking for depression help and have worked well with clients who were on antidepressants.
I will always start by exploring the specific manifestations of the depression, the client’s history, lifestyle, support network, the part society has played as well as psychological, environmental and biological factors.
The success of a therapy depends on many aspects. One important starting point is the client’s willingness to be an active player in bringing about the change that they want to see in their life. The work aims to create a safe environment, a safe relational field, in which the client’s self-healing powers can be activated. The client may find out more about their own way of turning their energy back on themselves. If appropriate it may be useful to bring awareness to where the battle of suppressed energy is taking place in the body and how energy is kept down. Awareness of what we do and how we do it opens up choice. The client can then take small steps in trying out what it feels like to do things differently.
The support a safe therapeutic relationship can offer will often open up resources for fundamental change. Together we will find out what it takes to establish better and more compassionate contact with oneself and richer contact with others. With enough awareness choices open up and you will become less dependent on fixed patterns of behaviour. Once clients are able to take in support in the therapy room they have the means and the experience to do more of it out in their lives. The aim is for there to be enough self-support for emotions and needs to be expressed freely and safely. As the flow of vitality is restored, clients usually report a greater sense of being alive and connected. This usually brings a relief from the symptoms of depression.
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"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
Psychotherapy Brighton and Lewes