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Supporting Your Clients Through Depression

Oct 07, 2022

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world, and currently affects around one in six adults in the UK. Women are actually twice as likely to suffer depression as men, but they’re also more likely to seek treatment, too. In fact, 15% of women receive treatment for depression, against just 9% of men.


Since the pandemic, rates of depression have soared in the UK: in the summer of 2021, 17% of adults experienced some form of depression, compared to just 10% before the pandemic. Clearly, people are still feeling the impact – and with the cost of living crisis currently sweeping the country, those figures aren’t set to drop any time soon.


Depression is often associated with other mental health issues, such as anxiety, stress, and loneliness – and it’s having a real impact on people's working lives, too. So much so that an overwhelming 52% of UK workers are currently experiencing at least mild symptoms of depression.


You may have already seen an uptick in the number of people visiting you with symptoms of depression, and chances are, that trend will continue. So how can you best help your clients when they’re struggling through depression?


A sense of hope


When a person is suffering from depression, they often feel consumed by hopelessness, and can see no way out. Your job is to show them that there is a way, and all is not lost.


Some approaches to treating depression like that from a medical model perspective believe that depression can be caused by changes in a person’s brain, which may mean medication such as anti-depressants are prescribed. In many  cases, feelings of depression may have been triggered by a life event – such as bereavement, losing a job, getting into debt, going through a divorce, or being bullied.


You should always start by encouraging your client to consider what’s making them feel this way, as this will help you to ascertain whether these feelings are related to a life event, or down to a chemical imbalance – which may require a combination of therapy and medication.


Different forms of therapy


There are lots of different approaches that can prove effective in managing depression. Each therapist will have their own preference, and this will largely depend on how each individual client presents. It’s incredibly important to approach each client on a case-by-case basis, rather than adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. Your clients are people, and people are very different in what they respond to.


Here are seven of the most common forms of therapy used to manage depression.


  1. Cognitive Therapy


Cognitive therapy works on the basis that our thoughts affect our emotions (looking to the positive can make us feel more positive in general). Negative thought exacerbate depression, but it can be hard to break out of this loop when you’re struggling. Cognitive therapy helps people to identify, challenge, and reframe cognitive distortions (common patterns of negative thinking) to improve mood.


  1. Behavioural Therapy


Behavioural therapy focuses on changing the behaviours that can affect emotions. One of the core principles of behavioural treatment for depression is what’s known as behavioural activation. This involves helping your patients to engage in activities that will increase their feelings of wellbeing.


  1. Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)


Cognitive therapy and behavioural therapy work well together in managing depression, so the two methods are often combined in an approach called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT centres on addressing negative thought patterns and negative behaviours. Under this approach, you’ll help clients to address automatic negative reactions, all-or-nothing thinking, and overgeneralisation, and learn healthier ways of thinking and responding.


  1. Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)


CFT is a system of psychotherapy encouraging people to be compassionate towards themselves and others. It was developed to overcome the feelings of shame and self-criticism that so often present in people experiencing mental health difficulties. CFT aims to restore or introduce notions of compassion, safety, and reassurance in those who may have been raised in environments where these were absent. 


  1. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy


While dialectical behaviour therapy is mostly based on CBT, this form of therapy asks those experiencing depression to both acknowledge and accept negative thoughts and behaviours. The reasoning behind this is that through the practice of validation, people can come to terms with more negative emotions, regulate their reactions, and better cope with stress.


  1. Psychodynamic Therapy


Psychodynamic therapy works on the base assumption that depression occurs because of unresolved conflict; this often originates in childhood, and can be unconscious. This form of therapy is designed to help people become more aware of their emotions, including challenging ones, and sit with those feelings – building self-awareness, and increasing their emotional capacity.


  1. Interpersonal Therapy 


Interpersonal therapy addresses past and present social roles and interpersonal interactions, by examining social relationships – be it partner, parent, colleague or friend. The idea is to identify what role (if any) these key relationships play in a person’s life to uncover ways of resolving internal conflict. Social support systems are crucial for our mental health, and this type of therapy works on strengthening those systems.

No matter what type of therapy you choose to employ with you clients, be sure to monitor progress along the way. If one form of therapy is ineffective for your client, they may need another approach. 

Depression is a serious mental health condition. It can impact on every facet of a persons life and well-being. As therapists and mental health professionals it is crucial we have the confidence, knowledge and competence to work effectively with our clients that experience depression. If your wanting to gain more confidence, training and tools to use in your work as a therapist/mental health professional then you may want to join our online course called working with depression. Visit our course page to learn more.

Access your FREE 'Creative Therapy Training'

My Little Therapy box all started with my passion for helping clients in therapy who struggle to open up and articulate their feelings into words.

In this 30-minute training session, I share the barriers some clients face in therapy and how we as therapists can help them overcome this by using creative ways to help them engage and get the most out of the therapeutic relationship.

This is the same presentation I was invited to deliver at this year’s BACP Annual Online conference.


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