100+ Practical Tools to Defeat Depression
Social Interventions
Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes, PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC
Executive Director, AllCEUs Counseling Education
Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox, Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery

Objectives
~ Identify the benefits of social support
~ Explore the characteristics of healthy relationships
~ Identify ways to improve relationships
~ Baggage
~ Temperament
~ Assertiveness
~ Nurturing
~ Discuss the concepts of forgiveness and acceptance
~ Learn about how pets can provide an element of social support

Benefits of Social Support
~ Sense of belonging. Spending time with them helps ward off loneliness. Whether it's other new parents, dog lovers, fishing buddies or siblings, just knowing you're not alone can go a long way toward coping with stress.
~ Increased sense of self-worth. Having people who call you a friend reinforces the idea that you're a good person to be around.
~ Feeling of security. Your social network gives you access to information, advice, guidance and other types of assistance should you need you. It's comforting to know that you have people you can turn to in a time of need.

Healthy Relationships
~ Cookies
~ Start by discussing cookies and how many different variations there are for sugar cookies.
~ Then discuss all the different stand-alone foods you can put in a sugar cookie to make it even better. (chocolate chips, caramels, candy corn, dates/raisins, peanut butter, walnuts, zucchini, carrots, Rice Krispies, oatmeal…)
~ Then talk about stand-alone foods you wouldn’t add to a sugar cookie. (Not everyone will agree (like chocolate covered fruit)) Examples: sardines (salty), hot pepper flakes (spicy), black licorice (funky), oysters (slimy), lemon slices (sour), kale (bitter), popcorn (would dissolve))
~ Then
~ Make a “recipe” for a good person
~ Create a “recipe” for a friend that would bring out the best in the good person
~ Identify characteristics of people that would not combine well with the good person (pet peeves and deal breakers)

Characteristics of Healthy Relationships
~ Characteristics
~ Honesty
~ Faith/Trust
~ Compassion
~ Respect
~ Boundaries
~ Openness/Willingness
~ Mutual Support
~ Unconditional Positive Regard
Characteristics of Healthy Relationships
~ Activity
~ Start by defining each characteristic and having participants identify examples.
~ Write each characteristic on a piece of flip-chart paper and post them around the room.
~ Have people go from station to station and write how they nurture that quality in themselves and others.
Baggage Claim
~ Too often we carry baggage from relationship to relationship and make the new person carry the old baggage.
~ Healthy relationships require understanding what you feel, why you feel that way and who triggered that feeling, then deciding if you want to continue to carry that with you (Baggage fees are EXPENSIVE!)

Baggage Claim
~ Activity
~ List the influential you in your life: Parents, friends, past loves (and current ones).
~ Identify what each of you has taught you about relationships (good and bad).
~ Compare that to the Skills Required for Healthy Relationships above.
~ Decide what baggage you have from each relationship that you are going to choose to carry and what you are going to learn from and let go. (It is not fair to hold everyone hostage because a parent could not openly express affection or one of your friends is not encouraging and supportive, for example)
~ Identify what skills you need to work on.
~ Focus on improving one area each week.

Assertive Communication
~ Being assertive means that you express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view, while also respecting the rights and beliefs of others.
~ Define
~ Passive
~ Aggressive
~ Passive-aggressive
~ Assertive behavior

Assertive Communication
~ Activity
~ Role play each type of communication in the following situations
~ Disagreement with a roommate
~ Disagreement with someone on social media
~ Being on the phone with the cable company
~ Talking to the doctor
~ Interacting with a particularly difficult family member

Nurturing Relationships
~ Review the following tips, and ask yourself, how can I do this for myself? How can I do this for my friend(s)?
~ Kind, constant, and honest communication. (mindfulness)
~ The willingness to work through difficulties and disagreements.
~ A sense of humor, some fun, and a bit of distraction from the rigors of daily life. (Share in group)
~ Sharing life lessons with your friends. (Share in group)
~ Emotional support, validation, and compliments.
~ Sharing goals and dreams. (Share in group)
~ Compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness.
~ Being able to admit mistakes and to talk about them. (Share in group)
Temperament
~ By creating an environment that is most in line with your preferences, you can reduce stress.
~ By understanding other’s preferences, you can improve how you interact and communicate with them.
~ Activity: Administer the Temperament Checklist (in the book) or the Keirsey Temperament Sorter.
~ Identify your personality dimensions:
~ Are you more of an Extrovert or an Introvert
~ Are you more Sensing or iNtuitive
~ Are you more of a Thinker or a Feeler
~ Are you more Judging or Perceiving

Temperament Activity
~ Address one dimension at a time
~ Have Extroverts on one side of the room and Introverts on the other.
~ Discuss what each temperament prefers using the temperament checklist
~ Discuss ways people with opposing preferences can effectively be in relationships and how that preference impacts their work, recreation, and relationships
~ If someone disagrees with a temperament trait, he or she takes one step toward the other side. (The goal is to demonstrate the continuum)

Love and Compassion
~ What does love look like to you?
~ Discussion Questions:
~ What or who do you love?
~ How do you know?
~ Are there different types of love?
~ What does each look like?
~ How can you tell the difference between love, lust, and like?
~ Have you ever thought you loved someone just because you were afraid of being alone?
~ How does love sometimes keep you in unhealthy relationships?
~ Individual activity: Write a story about loving something or make a list or collage of all the things you love.

Love and Compassion
~ Compassion is defined as caring and concern for the suffering or misfortunes of others.
~ Americans often respond with a self-centered response. Instead of seeing the cashier as someone who is doing her best and having a bad day, we may see her as someone who is slow and holding us up.
~ Activity: Developing compassion for self and others.
~ For the next week, when you start to get irritated at someone or feel guilty for not doing something, try to be compassionate.
~ Ask yourself:
~ “Am I (or is he or she) doing the best I/he/she can?” If so, then it is not reasonable to expect anything else. Follow that up with, is there something I can do to help or make it better?”
~ What are three other possible explanations for why this might be happening?

Forgiveness and Acceptance
~ Forgiveness is a power play that allows us to accept something someone did and stop stewing on it. (like turning off a burner)
~ In any relationship there will be times you need to forgive (yourself or the other person, or both)
~ Anger tells you there might be a threat that you need to address. Not one to hold on to and nurture for 20 years.
~ Activity: The Impact of Resentments
~ Brainstorm the impact of resentments on health, relationships with others, mood and faith in self and others.
~ Discuss
~ When you refuse to forgive yourself, you damage your self esteem, waste a lot of energy and can feel hopeless and unlovable leading to depression.
~ When you refuse to forgive other people you exert a ton of energy and isolate yourself from people who could help you feel loved and supported.
Forgiveness and Acceptance
~ Activity
~ What would happen if I forgave…? (What am I afraid of?)
~ Individual Activity:
~ Make a list of all of the things that you are holding onto and beating yourself up for. Then figure out how to forgive yourself or let it go. If you get stuck, ask yourself, “If my child or best friend did this, how would I deal with it?”—then do it.
~ Repeat this for resentments you hold toward others
~ Group activity (Same as individual activity, but…)
~ Have people write on a card 2 resentments that they hold. Put the card in a hat and draw from that.
Asking for Help and Saying No
~ It is easy to get exhausted and feel overwhelmed and stuck when you insist on not only carrying all your burdens by yourself, but also carrying everyone else’s.
~ Before you say yes (or no) to anything, think—“Will this help me be more the person I want to be?” or “Is this something I can afford to spend energy on right now?”
~ Sometimes when you get depressed, you get stuck in the “no” trap. You don’t want to do anything. Part of being mindful is also asking yourself, “Is there any reason I cannot do this right now?” If you have time and can muster the energy, at least consider trying it.
Asking for Help and Saying No
~ Questions
~ Why do you resist asking for help or saying no to other’s requests?
~ Identify 3 times in the past month when it would have helped if you had asked for help. Who could you have asked?
~ Activity: Mindful Time Management
~ Develop a schedule for the next 2 weeks and identify areas where other people can help you. (Delegate)
Appreciating Individual Differences
~ Mother:
~ Father:
~ Sibling:
~ Grandparent:
~ Favorite Grade-School Teacher:
~ Least Favorite Teacher:
~ A Child:
~ Neighbor:
~ Coach:
~ First Love:
~ Someone You Do Not Like:
~ Best Boss:
~ Worst Boss:
~ Roommate:
~ Spouse/Significant Other:
~ Spiritual Leader/Guide:
~ Best Friend:
~ Uncle/Aunt:
Pets
~ Petting or holding an animal can help (Animal Assisted Activities)
~ Release oxytocin
~ Lower blood pressure
~ Reduce heart rate
~ Animals can:
~ Provide unconditional positive regard
~ Help distract you (Just look at YouTube stats)
~ Change your behavior (like after a bad day)
~ Get you out of your own head
~ Make you laugh
~ Help you reset your circadian rhythms by getting you on a schedule
~ Consider fostering or starting an animal foster/training program at your facility

Summary
~ Identify the benefits of social support: Belonging, self-worth, security
~ Explore the characteristics of healthy relationships: Honesty, compassion, mutual support willingness
~ Identify ways to improve relationships
~ Baggage
~ Temperament
~ Assertiveness
~ Nurturing
~ Discuss the concepts of forgiveness and acceptance
~ Learn about how pets can provide an element of social support