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What does success in therapy look like?

A new perspective that freed him from depression and negative thinking

by Dr. Dwight Hughes, LMFT

I’ll pull from a recent story. This is a pastor who came about 8 weeks ago, and his presenting issue was depression. Of course, he wasn’t sure that he was depressed; his wife sent him, and he came willingly. By the 8th session, he comes in, and not only does he come in, but he brings his wife along with him. I saw them approaching the building, so I went out to help them in, and she looks at me and she said, “You have helped my husband. I have my husband back again.” I’m saying, “Wow.” I said, “I’m merely a vessel,” and she said, “I know that, but he’s a changed man.”

His way of communicating, very gentle spirit, was to write. So, throughout our time I saw him, these were his strategies where he was writing certain things. He had a church hurt scenario that rose for him because he was having a nephew that was experiencing a hard time in a church he was serving, which triggered him. 

He voiced that what opened him, that what really helped him, was for me to name that he was in a season that he had never experienced before. He’s aging, he’s losing some abilities while trying to care for his wife, while still trying to be in ministry in the neighborhood that they live in. But he was getting so frustrated because he didn’t have the energy to do as much as he wanted to do. His wife said that if he could not return a call or check in on someone in the neighborhood who he knew was having an illness, it would impact him in a negative way. So, him coming to grips with what it meant to age, and for me to sort of normalize for him, “Hey, don’t be so hard on yourself. You’ve never done this before,” he said that really freed him. 

So, they brought a card, he wrote a really sweet card, they brought a jar of jam, and the wife had to meet me. If that wasn’t gratifying, I don’t know what was. 

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