Oftentimes, clients come to my practice after trying medication or other types of therapy. They state that their previous treatment, which may have been helpful at first, is no longer working. The main reason for this failure is because the prior intervention did not reach the root cause of their depression, and they may not even be aware of it. They don’t know what to do anymore, and are typically seen in my office at the insistence of friends or family, seeking an alternative “cure.” My colleagues and I can help lift that cloud of depression enveloping your life and those around you. Here’s why you should come to us, and what we offer to assist you.
First of all, and most important to know, is that you aren’t broken and don’t need to be fixed. What you do need is help to realize that you make sense, and that what’s happening in your body makes sense. You just don’t understand it yet. You have not been taught to listen to what your body’s trying to tell you. Our body’s inner wisdom will innately guide us in the right direction toward healing, if we only pay attention.
When you come to our practice for assistance, our initial step is to get a complete exam to rule out any physical causes for your depressive symptoms. I work with and recommend specialists in naturopathy and homeopathy, who frequently find that neurotransmitters in the body are out of balance, or a B12 or D3 deficiency is present. Difficulty in metabolizing these vitamins is an increasingly common find in our nutritionally-deficit society.
Once any physical issues have been addressed, our highly trained, body-centered therapists guide you to tune-in and learn to trust your inner knowing, to find and express the feelings below the depressed feelings. By energetically reading a client’s “body talk,” our skilled practitioners can also tell where emotions are stuck, or being held. Becoming aware of your breathing pattern is key to so much. Deep breathing allows emotion to free up; “catching” or holding your breath keeps emotions stuck in your body and holding against feeling increases depressed feelings. If you don’t allow a feeling to begin, you also don’t let it end. In therapy sessions, we encourage clients to identify the surfacing emotions: Was that sadness or grief? If the emotion was suppressed, we discuss: What held you back? Why did you shut your feelings down? Therapy sessions help build awareness of this typically unconscious process of dealing with our emotions. We explore issues such as where and when you learned this response, and the reasons you continue to use it today.
Too often with regard to emotions, we are told to “suck it up” or use willpower to overcome our “weakness,” when in truth, the real need is to go down into the feeling, instead of pulling yourself out and distancing from it.
Another aspect of our therapeutic program might include homework assignments in between counseling sessions, which can be useful tools in the awakening/awareness process. One assignment might be to stay mindful of your breathing pattern throughout the day, as most depressed people don’t breathe deeply. Another suggestion might be taking a daily walk, or regularly performing some other enjoyable exercise, to move energy through the body. Depression is stagnant energy, and movement can help bring up emotions. This is often a reason why depressed people rarely exercise.
For all homework assignments, the key is to remember that you can’t mess this up! So don’t hesitate to go for it, give it a try. There is no such thing as failure. Everything that happens will tell us something. If you experience lockdown, this only means you are seeing a way you learned to survive. All responses brings awareness and it is important to bring appreciation to your process. In addition, we always encourage clients to write down feelings that come up between sessions, so that we can talk about them. Did anger come up? How did it feel? How do you feel now?
As pointed out by Virginia Satir, renowned psychotherapist and author, many years ago: the “presenting issue” or “surface problem” itself is seldom the real problem; rather, how people coped with the issue created the problem.” In other words, when treating depression, learning your emotions is part of the equation, but how you feel about how you feel, and how you cope with those feelings, is the bigger issue.
It cannot be said enough: People suffering from depression are not broken and do not need to be fixed. Developing an awareness and honoring what your body needs to be healthy emotionally, as well as physically (with nutritious food, supplements and appropriate exercise), is the foundation for a satisfying, happy life.
If you feel that you or someone you love could benefit from the therapeutic guidance my colleagues and I offer at Dr. Dori Gatter and Associates, “Body Centered Psychotherapy,” please don’t hesitate to contact our office. A better life is just up ahead!