The Purpose of Depression

The Purpose of Depression: A Control-mastery perspective

Clients who struggle with depression can pose a particular challenge for clinicians. Although some clients do respond to medication in the short run, there are clients for whom 1) the medication stops working, 2) cognitive-behavioral approaches are less effective or not effective at all and 3) any approach seems to deepen their suffering.

From a Control-mastery perspective, depression may have a purpose, unbeknownst to the client. Until this can be understood, much of what the clinician does may not only not provide relief, but may also contribute to prolonged suffering.

This workshop will address how the clinician can understand what purpose depression might serve for particular clients. Clues to this can be discerned from the client’s history and the meaning the client has made of her/his experience.

The Control-mastery approach provides guidelines for interventions based on this information which can support the client to draw on her/his own resources to become less depressed. The presentation will also discuss how the clinician can manage and make use of the often difficult countertransference reactions these clients can evoke.

Participants will:
  • Receive an overview of the principles of Control-mastery theory
  • Understand how Control-mastery explains the way clients use depression to express loyalty to their family
  • Identifying typical countertransference reactions to depressed clients
  • Using case material, practice developing intervention strategies to help depressed clients