Counselling for depression invites us into a safe and caring space in which we may feel free to share the painful aspects of our lives. We feel depressed when our enthusiasm for living flags. We sense life’s meaning has somehow been drained from it. There is a sense of heaviness in which the smallest actions appear as insurmountable tasks, and all we have energy for is wishing this dark weight will be lifted from us. When we experience this hollowed out feeling, we find it hard to describe it to others and to ourselves. We know it is present in us but we have little understanding of it. Why does it grip us so strongly. Why do we seem so powerless to remedy it.
Counselling for depression offers the first important ingredient for managing this debilitating state: a compassionate listener. We all need to be listened to, to have our lives acknowledged. That is especially true when we are feeling down. To feel neglected when we are unwell makes recovery difficult. If we are lucky enough to have someone willing to listen, the effectiveness of that listening will depend on how understanding it is. Is our listener able to step inside our experience? Is their listening free of judgment? Do they accurately get what it feels like to be us at this moment?
Counselling for depression makes a space for all dark thoughts and feelings. They become shared. We no longer need to carry them alone. As we describe our inner life, new feelings and thoughts emerge. It is as if they were blocked from appearing until the dark feelings were expressed and heard. Once done, life begins to move again.
When we experience being listened to and understood, we may learn to listen to ourselves in the same compassionate way. Self-compassion is fundamental to silencing those critical inner voices that make us feel we are not good enough.