A comparative analysis between two different types of counselling in the treatment of depression

Essay, 2011

7 Pages, Grade: 1


With the ever-growing increase of psychological disorders in modern society, cognitive-behavioural therapy has evolved as of the most accepted and mainstream approaches throughout the Western world. In accordance with the need for an ever-growing variety of treatment types – to attend to the different needs of individuals – there has been a steady evolution of relatively new theories for the treatment of psychological disorders. One that has found particular attention in the area of postmodern approaches is compassion-focused therapy. Although both approaches are beneficial in the treatment of psychological disorders, compassion-focused therapy may have an advantage over cognitive-behavioural therapy as it provides a more concrete unification between logical thought and feelings. This is mainly through its central application of giving compassion to the client as the foundational work to therapy. To illustrate this point, both theories will be outlined and then compared and contrasted around the theme of depression since this is a prevalent issue and one that is considered to be the domain of cognitive-behavioural treatment, with a demonstrative outcome of how the differences between the two approaches can play a significant role in successful treatment. Compassion-focused therapy has the potential to be therapeutically more effective in treating depression, providing the client is ready to accept going beyond challenging their logical thinking and behaviour; ready to allow compassion in their life, and to be aware of how to balance their physiological regulatory systems.

In analysing how both theories contribute to the treatment of depression, it first becomes necessary to provide a workable definition of it. As the Merck Manual (2011) and DSM-IV-TR (First, Frances, & Alan-Pincus, 2004) state, major depression episodes are characterised by five or more of the following symptoms exceeding a two week period: depressed mood for most of the day, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of low self-esteem or guilt, weight loss, insomnia, loss of energy, psychomotor disturbances, a lowering in cognitive performance, and possible thoughts about death or suicide. Although these symptoms are not exhaustive or applicable in all cases, they do lay a foundation to work from clinically.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy is an integrated approach between two distinctive modes of therapy and is one of the primary treatment methods for treating depression via mainstream medical and psychological means (Carlstedt, 2010). The cognitive side of the theory has three main assumptions: that there are automatic thought patterns or inference chains – that is understanding that when A occurs then B will follow and so forth; secondly, rules and assumptions about the world; for example: “There is no point trying if I cannot succeed,” or: “This must happen in order for me to be happy”. Thirdly, the self-other schema – this translates to how one perceives oneself, others, and others opinions of oneself (Whitfield & Davidson, 2007). In the case of depression, negative schemas are acquired in childhood that in turn creates automatic thought patterns, which in time validate negative beliefs. This develops into a cognitive triad that is negative and thus the depressed individual’s thoughts are conditioned to be biased that way. Treatment from the cognitive aspect revolves around learning cognitive restructuring techniques, which “lead to more logical and adaptive thinking” in conjunction with understanding both the historical and present thinking ‘blocks’ (Wiessman, 2001, p.250).


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A comparative analysis between two different types of counselling in the treatment of depression
Massey University, New Zealand
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Lee Hooper (Author), 2011, A comparative analysis between two different types of counselling in the treatment of depression, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/262258


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