Guest blog: Depression Coaching and Depression Counselling: What’s the difference?

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When you’re struggling with depression, there are a variety of treatment options available and it can be difficult to make sense of which approach is best for you. Alongside medication to help restore the balance of natural serotonin in the brain, talk therapy can be an effective treatment in recovering from depression and enhancing feelings of overall well-being.

Both depression counselling and depression coaching can help recovery, and below we’ll explore how they both differ as treatment.

It may be that you are recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder and could benefit from a course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help you manage negative thoughts and learn new coping skills. Or, perhaps you have suffered from bouts of depression in your childhood and want to learn new techniques to help you stay on track in your recovery, working towards your personal goals. If this is the case, coaching can work as a preventative method, teaching you how to stay focused and achieve those aspirations.

Julie Crowley, Counsellor, Personal Development Coach and NLP Practitioner, who offers both depression counselling and depression coaching services, explains, “Counselling looks to past issues that impact on the present moment for the client to be more aware of what and why. It is a more ‘passive’ approach to reach the point of having choices and options.”

Counselling or talking therapy for depression covers a variety of different approaches, based on your circumstances, experience and the type of depression you have. From mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), combining breathing exercises and meditation practices, to interpersonal therapy, exploring how our mental health affects our relationships, counselling is effective in unpicking difficult emotions and putting them in an order that makes sense to your current situation to understand your depression.

“Depression as a ‘healing process’ can be supported by counselling – a talking/listening therapy that provides empathy and understanding, and acceptance of where the client is at that time,” Julie says. “It’s a gentle process of making time and space for you to share feelings and thoughts: to talk about your feelings for clarity and understanding, and not having to fear the unknown. Counselling helps you realise you have choices towards feeling happier and healthier again and can help you overcome current behaviours fuelled by depression – including avoiding events, people or situations – that feel ‘too much’ to handle right now.”

Person-centred therapy, a humanistic approach to counselling, is particularly effective for individuals struggling with depression. Depression can often affect one’s self-esteem, self-reliance and self-awareness and this particular form of therapy encourages the person to reconnect with their inner, true self and deal with any limitations from mental ill health.

This unique talk therapy is successful when practised on the basis of a genuine relationship between client and counsellor. The counsellor must display genuine, empathic positivity towards the client, as the client is seen as the expert (expert on themselves) in the relationship. Person-centred therapy explores the ways in which we perceive ourselves consciously as clients, rather than how a counsellor can interpret our unconscious thoughts or ideas. The goal is for the client to re-establish their sense of self-worth, enabling them to find their own way forward towards positive, personal progression.

Whilst coaching may not seem the obvious treatment for mental ill health, it can serve as a useful addition to an existing treatment programme. Depression coaching is helpful for an individual who has struggled with bouts of depression in the past, by using this therapy as a preventative measure. Coaching enables clients to look at their life goals and aspirations and work on a plan towards achieving these goals, instead of unpicking past events that may have contributed to a person’s depression.

Julie says, “Coaching offers the client awareness and a safe space to think about the ‘what next’ steps towards feeling better and getting back to living fully again.

“It’s a space to practise techniques that help move people forward: setting clear goals like reducing stressors, planning and taking action steps like limiting time away from home until stronger and building resources for support. Helping clients to get back to normal or be themselves again are commonly shared ‘goals’ which require disclosure to a trained professional about their problems in order to resolve them. In doing so, you’ll learn to find options or solutions to these problems, taking manageable daily steps to help themselves.”

It’s important to remember that there is support available, and if one type of therapy doesn’t suit you, there are lots of other options to try. For example, for someone who struggles with mild depression, a course of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) may be suitable to prevent future episodes. NLP is the practice of harnessing the power of language to breakdown mental barriers we unknowingly build for ourselves, with the core principles combining mindfulness and CBT.

Depression can be exhausting, physically and mentally but you aren’t alone and don’t have to suffer in silence. Find help and support via our mental health crisis support information or contact a counsellor or coach today.

Written by Katie from Counselling Directory an online resource hub for mental health, personal growth and development. Visit their depression hub for further information.