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  • What Helps Depression: Individual Therapy & Soul Work

    what helps depression

    Individual therapy and careful, gradual soul work are often key elements in what helps depression.  “OK,” you’re saying, “other than a fancy buzzword or slogan, what is ‘soul work'”?

    Saying anything about soul may seem strange in 2012.  “Isn’t it just an irrelevant step back into the Middle Ages?” you may ask.  Well, here’s why /a-midlife-transitions consider it important.

    Doing Soul Work?

    As I’ve stated in earlier posts, soul as used here has nothing to do with organized religion, astral projection or seances, but with connection with the deep images and experiences of inner life.  It concerns the deepest and most intimate levels of what is going on inside a person.

    How Does It Occur in Individual Therapy?

    In a recent “Facts and Arguments” piece  in the Globe and Mail newspaper, entitled “A psychiatrist’s double bind“, psychiatrist Gili Adler Nevo wrote of her experience of soul work in individual therapy:

     I entered the world of case studies not knowing what to expect. How the hell could it help, just talking?

    I’ve talked before…. Yet, gradually, in the privacy of this shrine for the individual soul that was the therapist’s office, in this sacred place free of malice, motives or moral judgment, I could set my soul loose.

    It had been cooped up for so long, it didn’t even know it. And my soul, like anyone else’s, seemed complicated. Different layers protruded every time….

    Letting it out into that attuned and understanding comfort enabled my soul to live in peace with all its parts.

     Nevo contrasts her own experience of therapy with a patient in a psychiatric setting, whom she efficiently diagnoses and prescribes Prozac.  She clearly finds this modern psychiatic care to be incomplete:

    I could not afford to create that sacred place for the soul in which she could untangle her layers, understand the source of her depression and climb out of it. I did not have the time: It was no longer in the culture of my profession.

    Does Soul Work Truly Help Depression?

    I’m not suggesting that antidepressants are not necessary sometimes.  But they are often not sufficient.  Often people need to get in contact with their depths, and to experience acceptance and understanding.

    Individual therapy

    What Helps Depression

    “Just talking” is sometimes disparaged.  Yet the journey of talking about the fundamental matters in personal life, and contacting the many aspects of the self is a key element of what helps depression.  It can free the life locked up in the individual.


    PHOTO:  Attribution Some rights reserved by haprev214



    1. jamenta


      May 29, 2012 at 11:55 am -

      I also think to characterize depth therapy as “just talking” is to probably miss an even more important activity that happens (in my opinion) – “listening”. Listening to your dreams. Listening to your own creative impulse. Also listening more to your subjective experiences while going about ordinary life – and by listening, understanding them more and being able to navigate better the emergence of shadow elements within the inner dialogue etc.

      I also agree with Nevo (strongly) that antidepressants are an incomplete therapy. In fact, I suspect that due to the corporate for-profit health care industry that we have in the US – drug therapy is pushed mostly not because of its efficaciousness (which is probably due more to the placebo effect phenomenon) but because the few pharmaceutical giants are making billions off it. Call me cynical.

      I like your use of the word “soul”. It is a good word – and I believe “psyche” is another word for soul. We need that word and it needs to be re-affirmed in today’s dominant myth of materialism that still has many believing deep in their “souls” that we are nothing more than a product of atoms and molecules. Dualism – has taken a second seat to determinism and materialism – even though the modern physics of quantum mechanics – and the psychological work of such men as Frederic Myers or Carl Jung have observed and recorded a psyche that hardly follows the strict bounds of the materialistic orthodoxy – that so holds our drug bound culture captive.

      1. Brian C
        May 29, 2012 at 4:39 pm -

        Thank you for your comments, John. I fully agree that depth psychotherapy involves both deep listening and deep talking — both outwardly, to others, and inwardly, to the deepest aspects of the self. I also appreciate the comments that you make about the nature of soul, and the need we have for a psychology that takes soul, in the true sense of the word, into account. Thanks again for your thoughts!

    2. jamenta


      May 29, 2012 at 6:31 pm -

      Thanks Brian. I of course understand that my interpretation of what Jung writes could well be more radical than some. I’m willing to live with that! Take care.

      1. Brian C
        May 30, 2012 at 8:35 pm -

        Well, John, I think that the emphasis on soul in the way that I’m using the word here is something that Jung himself laid great emphasis upon, and which is even more emphasized in the work of James Hillman.

    3. Leo


      May 30, 2012 at 7:22 pm -

      I can only understand the greedy corporate pharmaceuticals as being an impediment to self discovery — waylaying one into manageable numbness.

      1. Brian C
        May 30, 2012 at 8:47 pm -

        Thank you for your comment, Leo. I would certainly agree that pharmaceuticals can easily waylay us into a sense of manageable numbness, especially if we let them take us away from soul, and from self-discovery, as you say. I appreciate your insight!

    4. jamenta


      May 30, 2012 at 8:54 pm -

      True enough Brian! Thx. Leo: yes, manageable numbness – or “comfortably numb” Pink Floyd.

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