The Depression Solutions Workbook: A Strengths and Skills-Based Approach

The Depression Solutions Workbook: A Strengths and Skills-Based Approach

by Jacqueline Corcoran

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Because depression depletes motivation and self-esteem, it can trap you in a vicious circle-though you want to escape how you're feeling, it seems impossible to work up the energy to change.

Using solution-focused therapy, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and motivational interviewing, The Depression Solutions Workbook will help motivate you to combat the


Because depression depletes motivation and self-esteem, it can trap you in a vicious circle-though you want to escape how you're feeling, it seems impossible to work up the energy to change.

Using solution-focused therapy, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and motivational interviewing, The Depression Solutions Workbook will help motivate you to combat the negative beliefs you have about yourself and end the self-destructive behaviors that sink you further into depression. This potent three-part approach will help you learn to identify your strengths, encourage you to take action, and teach you new coping skills. Once you're able to harness these new skills and enhance your existing strengths, you'll have the tools you need to make a positive and lasting change.

Build Strengths
Create a personal set of depression solutions based on your hidden resources and strengths.

Build Motivation
Find out how depression and other negative behaviors are hurting you and take a closer look at the benefits of overcoming them.

Build Skills
Dissolve negative thoughts and feelings, improve your relationships, and recognize your depression triggers.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The Depression Solutions Workbook includes tested methods for overcoming depression and is a tremendous resource for clinicians and clients alike.
—Thorana S. Nelson, Ph.D., professor of family therapy at Utah State University

Product Details

New Harbinger Publications
Publication date:
Unassigned Series
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Product dimensions:
7.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt


Depression is the most common mental illness, afflicting 17 percent of the U.S. population at some point in their lifetimes (Kessler et al. 2003). This figure represents tens of millions of people, so you’re not alone. If you’ve picked up this book, you probably suspect that you’re depressed. What are the symptoms?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association (2000), which is the standard resource for mental health diagnosis in the United States, three different disorders represent depressive symptoms: major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and adjustment disorder with depressed mood. Major depressive disorder is a period of two weeks or longer during which a person experiences a depressed mood or loss of interest in nearly all life activities. Dysthymic disorder represents a general personality style featuring symptoms that are similar to, but less intense than, those of major depression. In a given year, 1.5 percent of the adult population will suffer from dysthymic disorder (Kessler et al. 2003). Adjustment disorder with depressed mood represents depressive symptoms that develop from a person’s response to an identifiable stressor, such as a divorce, a job loss, or a move. To qualify for this diagnosis, the symptoms must begin within three months of the stressor; they usually don’t persist any longer than six months; and the person’s job, academic, or social functioning must be temporarily impaired in significant ways. You’ll find checklists for symptoms of depression in chapter 1.

What are the consequences of being depressed? You may already experience some of them, and they include:

More specifically, depression can be detrimental to physical health, contributing to lack of movement, more illnesses and doctor visits, and even early death. If you already have a medical illness (and people with illnesses and disability are at increased risk for depression), untreated depression can block recovery as well as your motivation and ability to follow through with prescribed treatment.

Finally, although depression often gets better after one episode, it’s also common for it to follow a chronic, relapsing, or recurrent course. That is, after one episode of depression, many people go on to have more episodes, even though they may recover in between.

As you can see, depression is a serious problem, and it’s important to tackle it, rather than wait to see if it will fade on its own. The Depression Solutions Workbook: A Strengths and Skills-Based Approach will help you do just that.

A Strengths and Skills Based Approach

Following is a very brief description of each of the three theoretical approaches underlying The Depression Solutions Workbook: solution-focused therapy, motivational interviewing, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Then I’ll show how the workbook is organized.

Solution-Focused Therapy

Solution-focused therapy, developed by Steve de Shazer, Insoo Kim Berg, Michelle Weiner-Davis, and colleagues (1986), focuses on a person’s strengths, abilities, and other resources, helping the person discover and build upon these resources.

Twenty years ago, when solution-focused therapy was first developed, this was a revolutionary concept: to work on what the person was doing well, not what was wrong with him. Solution-focused therapy is based on the idea that change can occur rapidly, and that even a small change can lead to a "spiral effect." The person takes a step in the right direction, prompting others around him to respond differently, which in turn makes him feel more empowered, encouraging further steps toward change. For example, suppose an older woman with depression motivates herself to get dressed and go for a walk so that the fresh air and exercise might give her more energy. Because she’s up and around, she might run into a neighbor who responds in a friendly fashion. Then, feeling slightly better from the walk and social interaction,the woman may feel motivated to make a phone call to a recreation center to find out about local senior activities.

Both behaving differently and thinking differently are part of the processes of change (de Shazer 1994). In solution-focused therapy, people are considered the experts on themselves and are encouraged to find the solutions that are right for them. Discovering their own strengths mobilizes them to apply these strengths to problem situations.

The solution-focused techniques presented in this workbook will help you identify:

Although you may currently feel hopeless about the future, solution-focused techniques will help you visualize a nondepressed future, which you can then start working toward.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing, created by William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick (2002), is a short-term approach that focuses on building motivation for change. It’s rooted in the idea that ambivalence toward change—wanting to change but also being stuck in the problem—is a natural process. Like solution-focused therapy, motivational interviewing helps you develop hope and vision about the possibility of change. Techniques will focus on helping you see why it might be a good idea to go ahead and make changes, even while still working on identifying some of the reasons why depression might actually be meeting some of your needs. Motivational interviewing techniques in this workbook will help you:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

In cognitive behavioral therapy,the nature of change is apparent in its name. That is, you can change in the following ways (Young et al. 2007):

The cognitive behavioral techniques presented in this book include problem solving, daily scheduling of pleasant activities, and communication skills training. Chapter 8 attacks belief systems that create and sustain depression.

However, cognitive behavioral therapy is an approach that’s best implemented when people are in the "action" stage of change, according to the Transtheoretical Stages of Change Model (Prochaska, Norcross, and DiClemente 1994).Before people can take action, they first need to feel motivated to change. This book will help you build your motivation as well as your appreciation and knowledge of your own strengths, so you can then start to use cognitive behavioral techniques to take constructive actions that will help you recover from depression.

About the Author

I’ve been a practicing psychotherapist since 1994, and I earned my master’s degree in social work in 1989. I received a Ph.D. in 1996 from the University of Texas and, since then, have served as a faculty member in two different universities, the University of Texas at Arlington and Virginia Commonwealth University, where I currently teach.

As a result of my work, I wrote Building Strengths and Skills: A Collaborative Approach to Working with Clients (Oxford University Press, 2004), a book on how to integrate with cognitive behavioral therapy the strengths-based approaches I discuss in this workbook. I’ve had a lot of success with this integration in my practice, especially when seeing clients who have depression. That’s why I decided to write this workbook, to offer ways for people suffering from depression to help themselves using the techniques and exercises I developed.

How This Book Is Organized

The main focus of The Depression Solutions Workbook is on brief explanations of techniques, along with case examples. I invite you to write in your own responses to the exercises that follow each technique. I also provide abundant case examples so that you can see how other people have used the techniques. These examples will illustrate some common types of life situations that contribute to depression, such as childhood abuse, domestic violence, and loss of relationships.

This book will help you identify, reinforce, and strengthen your own personal strengths, resources, and motivations. You’ll use cognitive behavioral skill-building to bolster areas where you have knowledge, or improve skill gaps that seem to interfere with your functioning. The Depression Solutions Workbook provides exercises that will help you become attuned to your unique strengths and resources, which will cause you to start feeling better about yourself, adopting a more positive worldview, and feeling more empowered to make use of cognitive behavioral strategies to "beat your depression."

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Corcoran, Ph.D., is a professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work in Alexandria, VA. She has authored and coauthored many books on evidence and strengths-based models, including Clinical Applications of Evidence-Based Family Interventions, Clinical Assessment and Diagnosis in Social Work Practice, and Building Strengths and Skills.

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