The Simple Questions That Really Help Depressed People

Posted on August 17, 2015

Photo: flickr

Socratic questioning differs from ‘normal’ questioning by focusing on fundamental issues and concerns.

For example, if a patient feels their life is a failure because of a divorce, the therapist might ask:

Is everyone who experienced divorce a failure?

Can you think of anyone for whom that is not true?

How does being divorced seem to translate into being a failure as a person for you?

What evidence is there that you have succeeded, and thus not been a “total failure?”

The study involved 55 patients who were followed over a 16-week course of cognitive therapy.

The sessions were taped and the researchers examined how much Socratic questioning each therapist used.

They found that more Socratic questioning led to more improvements in depressive symptoms.

Mr Braun explained how Socratic questioning can help:

“Patients are learning this process of asking themselves questions and being skeptical of their own negative thoughts.

When they do, they tend to see a substantial reduction in their depressive symptoms.”

“We think that one of the reasons that cognitive therapy has such enduring positive effects is that patients learn to question their negative thoughts, and continue doing so even after the treatment ends.

They find out that they may be overlooking information that is contrary to their negative thoughts.

They often aren’t looking at the whole situation, positive and negative.”

Category(s):Depression, Mental Health Professions

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