Here is a wise word from Martyn Lloyd-Jones, from his work Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure. It will help to know that the biblical context for what he is writing here is Psalm 4The main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self. Am I just trying to be deliberately paradoxical? Far from it. This is the very essence of wisdom in this matter. Have you realized that most of your unhapp10246378_587852291330093_339239394514715153_niness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problem of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself, ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been repressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you’. Do you know what I mean? If you do not, you have but little experience.

The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’–what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself,… exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’–instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God’.

  Self Counseling: Be Your Own Therapist

Many, many people in recovery from alcohol or substance abuse or other addictions often come out of rehab treatment feeling energized and full of hope. They have detoxed and removed substances physically. They likely received a lot of support with individual and group counseling sessions. At the end of treatment, it’s easy to feel uneasy without this support and slip into bad habits or behaviors. Follow-on counseling is recommended for many to smooth out this transition and stay on course. But what if your therapist appointment is on Friday and you have a crisis on Tuesday? What if your therapist didn’t fully understand you and what you’re going through? What can you do yourself to take more control of your destiny?

Now imagine if you had the best therapist in the world at your beck and call. A therapist who knows your whole life story, when and how you got hurt, your fears, your strengths, and a way to get through the blocking issues of your current situation. What if this therapist was available 24×7? Empowerment would follow. Now imagine looking into a mirror and seeing this therapist. The new trend in the field of psychology is self-counseling, that is, teaching people how to counsel themselves. Another benefit: this high-quality therapist comes at no charge.

This isn’t too far of a stretch. People can master reading, writing, and arithmetic – why not their psychological make up too? With a good grasp of the basics, a person has the ability to address their own anger, anxiety, addictive habits, and despair. That’s why this state-of-the-art approach to issue resolution is so exciting and groundbreaking!

Self-counseling can be incredibly effective with the proper training. It doesn’t take an advanced degree. By taking the time to learn what counseling professionals know, those in recovery and therapy can catapult themselves into a world of peace, happiness, and a mindset that no problem is too hard to handle.

Many of us practice some “self-counseling” skills innately already. Listening with an open heart, asking for clarification, and probing around options can help the majority of people get better. Further, learning how to work with deep-seated emotional wounds can also be mastered if one learns the proper structure. To get started, all it takes is the human skill of compassion to heal deeply seated wounds that may have been there for years. Amazingly, I have seen everyday volunteers do a better job than some psychology graduates from prestigious colleges because they were compassionate.

Let’s look at the top five mainstream counseling approaches, break them down into easy steps and show you an example of how they are applied in a self-counseling session.

5 Top Psychotherapy Approaches That Can Be Used for Self Counseling

1. Person-Centered Therapy (PCT)

Carl Rogers developed person-centered therapy (also known as person-centered psychotherapy, person-centered counseling, client-centered therapy and Rogerian psychotherapy) in the 1940s. He didn’t give advice. He did the exact opposite – all he did was listen. But it was how he listened that was the key. He did so with a full heart. Basically, PCT is based on listening to another person from a heart-centered place, asking clarifying questions, and then repeating back to them what was heard. Person-centered therapy allows people to explore their mind and get in touch with their own solutions. Through active listening, engagement and facilitation, person-centered counseling helps people to find solutions to their own problems.

2. Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT)

Begun in the 1950s by Albert Ellis, rational emotive therapy (also known as called rational therapy and rational emotive therapy) looks at the logic of our thought process to help change negative consequences into positive ones. If thoughts are based on irrational beliefs, consequences would be disastrous. Ellis used an A-B-C model to change a person’s irrational beliefs and their resulting behaviors in order to restore proper functioning.

The A-B-C Model:

A – An actuating event takes place
B – A person determines a plan of action due to their belief system
C – The consequences of their actions are either beneficial or detrimental
D – If detrimental consequences are expected, the legacy belief system must be disputed and a new belief must be created
E – the effect of this new belief system will result in a perfectly rational person.
3. Gestalt Therapy

Begun in the late 1950s by Dr. Fritz Perls, Gestalt therapy addresses unfinished emotional issues at their core. Gestalt therapy emphasizes personal responsibility and focuses upon the individual’s experience in the present moment. Gestalt therapy is an emotional approach that defies logic. When traumatic events take place they are stored in our consciousness differently and need to be addressed in a different manner. With trauma, a portion of our self becomes fixated at this point of our life. Perls referred to this as having “unfinished emotional business” and believed that when a traumatic experience is viewed from many angles the issue heals. Dr. Perls often used an “empty chair” for his clients to interact back and forth with other people, their emotions, or parts inside of them.

4. Reality Theory (RT)

Developed by William Glasser in the 1960s, RT focuses on what Glasser calls psychiatry’s three Rs: realism, responsibility, and right-and-wrong, rather than symptoms of mental disorders. Reality theory emphasizes dong the right behaviors over and over again until they get cemented into place. Simply stated, with RT a plan of action is created, a commitment is made to it, doing it, and adjusting it if needed.

5. Spiritual Psychology (SP)

Honed and further developed by Dr. Ron Hulnick and Dr. Mary Hulnick of the University of Santa Monica, Spiritual Psychology begins where other psychotherapies end. Spiritual Psychology is concerned with the health of the individual’s soul. This soul-centered approach believes that “when love is applied to hurt we heal.” Practically applied, Spiritual Psychology uses other psychotherapy approaches in progression. It helps a person become aware of a recent upset, ride the emotion back in time to the root of the matter (its core), communicate with that portion inside that is fixated, and apply love to it.

Self Counseling Tips & Example

Self counseling can be viewed as having a counseling session on paper. Though there is no formal book on the subject, here is a brief example of what it looks like:

Inner Counselor: How can I help you today?

Client: I have been angry lately and I am tired of it.

Inner Counselor: What is your intention for the counseling session?

[Note: Setting an intention gives direction to the session.]

Client: My intention is to heal at the deepest level possible.

Inner Counselor: {silent}

[Note: Person-centered therapy (PCT) lets the client take the lead.]

Client: I have an issue with anger. I seem to be angry all the time now and it is ruining my relationships at home and at work. I am getting so frustrated over little things that I can’t stand myself.

Inner Counselor: So what I am hearing you say is that anger is ruining your relationships at home and at work and you can’t stand yourself. Is that correct?

[Note: This is an example of “perception checking” which is used in PCT.]

Client: That’s right. I got into an argument with my boss and I was so upset I took it out on my wife when I got home.

Inner Counselor: Was there a certain event that happened at work?

[Note: With Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), let’s look at the ABC’s.]

Client: During my yearly review my boss lectured me about something that wasn’t my fault. I felt he wasn’t giving me the proper respect so I went off! Then he told me to get out of his office and go home to cool off.

[Note: A= Boss gave a lecture. B= Belief was no respect. C= Sent home due to angry outburst. The opportunity is to D = Dispute this belief.]

Inner Counselor: If I hear you correctly, you were accused of something that wasn’t your fault, you judged your boss as disrespectful, then reacted with anger and were sent home. Looking back on this situation, how would you do it differently?

Client: I guess I could have taken a breath, calmed myself, slowed down, and explained myself while more at ease.

[Note: Here is where the client changes his belief.]

Inner Counselor: This sounds like a wonderful learning. Would you like to give that angry part inside of you a voice?

[Note: To heal an issue it is important to work on the thoughts and emotions. Now the session moves to Gestalt Therapy to address the angry emotion.]

Client: Sure. I’ll ask the angry part inside of me to sit in the “empty chair.”

[Note: Now the excitement begins. Empty Chair work is at the heart of deep emotional healing.]

Anger: Your boss deserved to get yelled it. He was making assumptions and demeaning us.

Client: Well your stepping in and taking over could’ve gotten us fired.

Anger: I am tired of people stepping all over us. This has happened so many times at work that I couldn’t sit quiet anymore. You need to speak up for yourself. I stepped in because you didn’t.

Client: You’re right. I haven’t stood up for myself. I knew he was going to pin that on me and I should have said something to him weeks ago.

Inner Counselor: Would you be willing to make a commitment to this new plan of action to voice something when it first happens?

[Note: This is an extremely abbreviated version of the reality therapy (RT).]

Client: I would be willing to make that commitment.

Inner Counselor: Take this opportunity to thank Anger for coming forward. Also take this opportunity to appreciate yourself for a job well done.

[Note: This will bring an end to the Empty Chair approach and will apply love as with the Spiritual Psychology approach.]

Client: Thank you Anger. I have learned a lot. And I appreciate myself for learning and growing from this experience.

Summarizing Self Counseling

The above is an abbreviated example of a self counseling. Self counseling sessions usually run a few typed pages and take on a rich life of their own. After completion, it is important to print them out, delete the file, and then shred or burn the hard copy to release it. What is important to realize is that virtually everybody has the capacity. The criticizer, the criticized, and the compassionate observer This exercise is modeled on the two-chair dialogue studied by Gestalt therapist Leslie Greenberg. In this exercise, clients sit in different chairs to help get in touch with different, often conflicting parts of their selves, experiencing how each aspect feels in the present moment. To begin, put out three empty chairs, preferably in a triangular arrangement. Next, think about an issue that often troubles you, and that often elicits harsh selfcriticism. Designate one chair as the voice of your inner self-critic, one chair as the voice of the part of you that feels judged and criticized, and one chair as the voice of a wise, compassionate observer. You are going to be role-playing all three parts of yourself – you, you, and you. It may feel a bit silly at first, but you may be surprised at what comes out once you really start letting your feelings flow freely. 1) Think about your “issue,” and then sit in the chair of the self-critic. As you take your seat, express out loud what the self-critical part of you is thinking and feeling. For example “I hate that fact that you’re such a whimp and aren’t self-assertive.” Notice the words and tone of voice the self-critical part of you uses, and also how it is feeling. Worried, angry, self-righteous, exasperated? Note what your body posture is like. Strong, rigid, upright? What emotions are coming up for you right now?  2) Take the chair of the criticized aspect of yourself. Try to get in touch with how you feel being criticized in this manner. Then verbalize how you feel, responding directly to your inner critic. For example, “I feel so hurt by you” or “I feel so unsupported.” Just speak whatever comes into your mind. Again, notice the tone of your voice? Is it sad, discouraged, childlike, scared, helpless? What is your body posture like? Are you slumped, downward facing, frowning? 3) Conduct a dialogue between these two parts of yourself for a while, switching back and forth between the chair of the criticizer and the criticized. Really try to experience each aspect of yourself so each knows how the other feels. Allow each to fully express its views and be heard. 4) Now occupy the chair of the compassionate observer. Call upon your deepest wisdom, the wells of your caring concern, and address both the critic and the criticized. What does your compassionate self say to the critic, what insight does it have? For example, “You sound very much like your mother” or, “I see that you’re really scared, and you’re trying to help me so I don’t mess up.” What does your compassionate self say to the criticized part of yourself? For example, “It must be incredibly difficult to hear such harsh judgment day after day. I see that you’re really hurting” or “All you want is to be accepted for who you are.” Try to relax, letting your heart soften and open. What 3 words of compassion naturally spring forth? What is the tone of your voice? Tender, gentle, warm? What is your body posture like – balanced, centered, relaxed? 5) After the dialogue finishes (stop whenever it feels right), reflect upon what just happened. Do you have any new insights into how you treat yourself, where your patterns come from, new ways of thinking about the situation that are more productive and supportive? As you think about what you have learned, set your intention to relate to yourself in a kinder, healthier way in the future. A truce can be called in your inner war. Peace is possible. Your old habits of self-criticism don’t need to rule you forever. What you need to do is listen to the voice that’s already there, even if a bit hidden – your wise, compassionate self.


The Cave Group