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Archive for the ‘Depression’ Category

UNDOING DEPRESSION: A Visualization Alternative to Anti-Depressant Medications

 by Susan Heitler, Ph.D. and

Depression produces feelings of powerlessness and helplessness. Depressed feelings are triggered by a situation in which a person gives up on getting something of felt importance.

The following visualization, illustrated on the audiotape Depression: A Disorder of Power, can powerfully combat depressed moods. Designed for therapists to use with patients, the visualization may also be used as a self-help technique.

The depressed person closes his/her eyes, and the therapist asks the following questions, leading the depressed person through six re-empowering steps. To use the technique as self-help, ask a friend to read you the questions aloud. Alternatively, open your eyes to read each question, and then close them again to observe the images that come up on your visual screen.

  • Identify the conflict. “If you were going to be mad at someone, or at something, not yourself, notice what image comes up of who you could be mad at.”
  • Fill in the details. “In that scene, what do you see him (her) doing? How do you respond? What do you want? What do you feel, and think?”
  • Check relative sizes. “Who appears bigger, you or the other? By a little, or by a lot.” Note: if there are no size discrepancies, you are not dealing with depression, or have not yet identified the depressogenic situation.
  • Alter the sizes, increasing the patient’s sense of power. “Picture yourself suddenly growing very tall, like Alice in Wonderland, shooting way up tall.”
  • Broaden the database.“From this new height, from this perspective, what can you see now that you may not have noticed before when you were small?”
  • Find new solutions. “Knowing what you now know, from this bigger size, what are some new ways you might handle the problem to be more effective in getting what you want?”

Note: This protocol can reestablish normal power, eliminate the negative thinking of depression, and reestablish a sense of positive humor and well-being. For well-being to be sustained, however, the pattern of depressogenic interactions needs to be changed. For this reason, when depressogenic conflicts occur with a spouse, both partners need to be included in the therapy process so that both make the changes necessary for cooperative, rather than dominant-submissive, interacting.

Thoughts on the New “Energy Therapies”

In my posting today I am sharing a question and answer from a recent story on depression that  posted on my blog at   The question sent to me was an excellent one.  I’ve tried to answer it with full candor.

Just wondering what you mean

Submitted by Anonymous on October 19, 2011 – 9:16am.

Just wondering what you mean by “energy therapies”.

What exactly are you referring to? I’ve seen lots of claims by alternative therapies (and for that matter acupuncture as well) but haven’t really seen any full scale scientific studies that have proven the efficacy of such approaches.

I’m all for getting people off medication and believe that many people become too dependent on their therapists during talk therapy. However, there are a lot of psuedoscience spouting quacks out there and was intrigued by the fact that you believe that some of these approaches might work.

Here’s the answer to the question from Anonymous: 

On energy therapies

Submitted by Susan Heitler, Ph.D. on October 19, 2011 – 5:24pm.

I list the emergy therapy options, with links to websites explaing them, I’ve seen produce quite amazing results in my post  called A New World of Options for Soldiers and Other Traumatized Folks. It’s at….

Like you, I also have not seen scientific studies on the energy therapies. I think that’s in part because the established and conventional places that do studies have not yet taken these alternative options seriously. Or maybe I just don’t know where to look.

What I have seen though is a year’s worth several sessions a week of co-therapy with Dale Petterson, the energy therapist who works in my office suite. The results have totally convinced me that these therapy methods are the way of the future.

There are some things that conventional treatment does better. For sorting through what’s going on in someone’s current life for instance, talk therapy is the treatment of choice. At the same time, for someone with recurrent depression, energy therapy using Nelson Bradley’s The Body Code has accomplished with my patients astounding results.

As an example, Dale and I worked today with a college student giving him relief from inherited emotions like sorrow that originated in grandparents, and equalized the energy in his left and right frontal lobes. Now those interventions are really weird to think about. Want to hear something even weirder? My client is in college on the East Coast, and Dale and I work with him over Skype from Denver.

Yet the bottom line is that at the end of the session the young man felt great, and thanked us profoundly for how radically better he’s been feeling since we began the energy treatments about five sessions ago.

This is a young man I’ve worked with to combat depression on and off since he was in early high school. My interventions have always alleviated the current depressive episode, but until now with the energy treatments I had not been able to clean out the whole propensity to depression. The The Body Code, Emotion Code and EFT treatments Dale has done with him go way beyond anything that I can explain scientifically, but they sure are effective, fast, fun, relatively inexpensive, and with no downsides that I’ve come across.

For couples, therapy has to include a component of communication and conflict resolution skill training.   Energy therapies don’t touch skill training at all.

I write about the three levels of couple treatment interventions in my first posting on my PT blog, in an article called From Thin-Skinned to Win-Win.

The third and deepest intervention level of couples therapy is where I use energy therapy.  Energy therapy in couples work goes down deeper and can clean up the sub-sub-conscious material with astounding thoroughness and rapidity, way beyond what other methods I use like Gestalt and family therapy and the “depth dive” that I advocate in my book for therapists, From Conflict to Resolution.

In sum, I truly do believe that energy therapies definitely merit serious psychological study, serious attention from folks who need help, and need to be taught in psychology graduate school training programs.