During therapy sessions, it is common for clients to focus on the continued difficulties that they are experiencing as a result of their depression – poor sleep, lack of energy, sad mood, etc. and ignore the successes or positive changes that have occurred. Although it is important to discuss the on-going difficulties, it is also VERY important to discuss what positive changes have occurred over the past week or two between therapy sessions. For example, a client may continue to have poor sleep but was able to attend work for the past two weeks without being late or calling in sick because of a behavioural change that they made to problem-solve their difficulties getting up in the morning. This is a success that needs to be acknowledged because it is evidence of the client’s symptoms improving due to their conscious efforts.
It is also important to emphasize that although a client had a few “down days” where they struggled with their mood, that this isn’t a reflection of the depression getting worse! I often hear the expression “I took one step forward only to take two steps back…” but again, this is just a distorted thought getting in the way that needs to be challenged! These thoughts DO NOT equal reality. When the distorted thoughts are addressed, the client is usually able to confirm that they have been experiencing more “good” days than “bad” and are able to come up with a plan to address these distorted thoughts the next time they occur. Challenging one’s thoughts to be more realistic and evidence-based is an important part of the plan i.e. “Just because today isn’t a great day, doesn’t mean that I’m getting more depressed… overall, my days have actually been improving”.
Never disqualify the positive 😉
Have a wonderful weekend!