Health Team

New therapy technique helps depressed people look forward

Posted October 14, 2011

— One in ten Americans suffer from depression. For many, medication and traditional therapy are effective in dealing with it, but a California doctor has found a new technique that's helping her patients cope by looking forward.

It's called Future Directed Therapy and instead of traditional therapy, which focuses on past life experiences to change irrational, negative thoughts, it helps patients set future goals and pursue them. It may sound simple, but to a person with depression, setting and achieving goals seems impossible, said Dr. Jennice Vilhauer, a psychologist at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles.

"One of the goals of Future Directed Therapy is to activate parts of the brain that are a little more sluggish in patients with depression," Vilhauer said.

Vilhauer developed the therapy technique and her research shows that patients who employ it became less depressed and anxious than those in traditional therapy. They were also eight times more likely to say that the therapy was helping them enjoy life.

New therapy technique helps depressed people look forward New therapy technique helps depressed people look forward

Just two years ago, Nilou Siman's depression made it hard for her to get out of bed. 

"I wasn't functioning. I wasn't working. I didn't really go outside," she said. "I (had) tried just about everything. It never went anywhere. I have tried medications, everything and anything, (but) even with the meds, I was still depressed."

She tried Future Directed Therapy. Now, she not only springs out of bed in the morning, she teaches yoga to keep her body and mind healthy.

"I thought I was doomed, I thought there (was) no way I could ever get out of this," Siman said.

Now, she feels hope for a future.


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  • See Chart Oct 19, 2011

    Depression is so unique to each Humanbeing ,what we do not
    want to wish for is that articles such as this do not set
    up clinically depressed patients for failure ,if this idea
    of Future Directed Therapy does not work for them.
    One cannot paint depression with one brush stroke.
    I agree that happiness with ones self should be the goal of therapy and in time if that is achieved well ,the patient will
    say "How was I so blue and sad for such along time" that is truly a time for a metaphorical high fiver.

  • davidgnews Oct 17, 2011

    Hopefully this type of therapy will help a lot of folks better than some SSRI being used more for building shareholder value than relieving depression.