Counseling and Therapy Services in Huntsville, AL provided by Chris Depew, MA, ALC

Associate Licensed Counselor under the supervision of Kenneth Tannehill supervising counselor

Counseling in Huntsville, AL made for today.

We Have a Choice

Choice Theory, Reality Theory, William Glasser, Talk therapy, psychotherapy, counseling, 

If we can start to realize all the choice that we have in life, we can begin to gain control over our selves and our emotions. We decide how we feel or behave in any given situation. 

Chris Depew runs a private counseling practice in Huntsville, AL. He helps people who are struggling with transitions. They could be from career, addictions, divorce, children, or any other change in life. If you are struggling through a change Chris can help you find some peace. 

Counseling Myths Debunked

Counseling Myths Debunked

Even before I was a therapist there were things that I thought I knew about therapy. Turns out, some of them were true and some of them were not. One of my favorite things to do is to answer questions relating to the myths surrounding having a therapist or going to therapy. People who have never been to therapy love to talk about it as if they are experts. I am not sure why that is. I am sure it is something to do with an insecurity. Anyway, I want to talk about two myths. The first one is having to do with length of therapy and the other has to do with the type of work done in therapy.

Once in Therapy, Always in Therapy

Long before I was a therapist I would hear about how therapists just wanted your money and they wanted you to come in for the rest of your life. Once you started going they made it so that you could never quit. Now that I am a therapist I know how silly that is. Frankly, I don't know of any practitioner that would want to see the same clients over their 20 or 30 year career. That doesn't sound fun at all. Aside from some severe mental illness where maintenance sessions every few months or so is needed, you don't see a therapist for the rest of your life. Whoever you are seeing should begin to structure an outline of how the process should go for you and then show you where you are in that process. Every therapist is different and some, like me, can let that outline develop slowly unless I know it needs to be brief. I think that people need to be very comfortable in my office so slower is better sometimes. Throwing them into the hard work quickly can be terrifying.

For the most part, the job of any therapist is to help you become self reliant not reliant on them. This means that you should start to feel like you could live life and function in a healthy way without your therapist the more you go to see them, not the other way around. If you find yourself stuck or you feel like you aren't working on being more self reliant then talk to them about it. They need to know those things.

Therapy Myths, Counseling, Therapist, Counselor, Psychotherapy, 

Tell me about your Past

One thing I hear most frequently about the therapeutic relationship that is incorrect is the fact that all therapists want to do is talk about your past. I will preface the things I am about to say with this, there are a bunch of different ways to practice psychotherapy and some of those ways do deal with the past which has clients go back in the past more then others. For the most part, therapist agree that the only time we need to rummage around in the closets of the past is when something in the past is affecting your decision making today. Otherwise, it should be all about today and how tomorrow can be better. It seems like here recently there must have been some training for life coaches that told them therapist work in the past so we tell clients we work in future. I have to admit, I became very mad when I first heard that. It was just a lie and plus life coaches need more accountability in my opinion.

Therapist do not rummage around in the closets of your past and if they do, they are doing it because they need to figure out why you are being affected today by something that happened years ago. Don't let people convince you that therapy is not for you because of these reasons or any others. If you think you would benefit from a therapeutic relationship then please reach out to a therapist and see how it might help you.


Chris Depew is a therapist and operates a private counseling practice in Huntsville Alabama and he focuses on personality disorders, addictions, and divorce care but helps anyone find peace in the middle of troubled times.

Daily Mindfulness

Mindfulness

You hear the word mindfulness everywhere these days. The bad thing is there are few people that do a good job of explaining exactly what it is. I will attempt to simplify what can seem like a complicated term. Mindfulness is simply being fully present in the moment and being fully accepting of how you feel emotionally and physically. Really that's all, seem simply? The problem in the "stay busy" culture we live in it can be hard to make sure we give ourselves these few moments to stop and see how we are doing throughout the day. I am going to try and address how to add this practice to your life.

It is important to stop and check in with ourselves throughout the day because when we don't do that we can have an emotion take us by surprise. When and emotion sneaks up on us we are less likely to be able to control the behavior that follows. So, how do we do it? One way to make sure you are reminded through out the day is by an app on your phone. They will allow you to set alarms to remind you to stop and breath and check in with your body. One of the ones I found on a quick search of the iOS app store was this one. It lets you set a schedule. Other ways are to simply use the alarm function on your phone. If you work in an office environment you can practice stopping and checking in every time you hear the printer print or your cubicle neighbor's phone ring. I am sure if take a few minutes you could think of some other triggers that might work for you.

The most important part of this is to remember to take a deep breath and then ask yourself, how am I feeling physically? Then ask yourself, how am I feeling emotionally? You might want to take note in a journal or just make mental note. Once you identify how you are feeling then you want to ask why you are feeling this way. Was it because you had a bad morning? Or was it because you didn't realize it but you had been slouching in your chair and it is hurting your back. This way you can make the changes needed to process the emotion or change the behavior to alleviate the pain.

It will take some practice to make this a natural part of your day. Hopefully, you will start to see that benefit very quickly after starting the practice. I feel certain you will. Let me know how it works for you.


Chris Depew is a therapist and operates a private counseling practice in Huntsville Alabama and he focuses on personality disorders, addictions, and divorce care but helps anyone find peace in the middle of troubled times.

Addiction and Emotions

The Invisable Side of Addiction

Addiction or what clinically is often referred to as ‘dependency’ is something people get uncomfortable talking about. When you mention addiction to someone - instantly people conjure a picture of how that looks. It could be the homeless man on the street or your relative that is always drunk at Christmas. Then the questions start. Why are they this way? Was it because mom or dad left them? Was it because they were abused? More often then not, that “why”, is answered with something along the lines of, they have no self control and they make bad decisions. Truth is, that is not how addiction works at all. It is a disease. The AA book calls it an allergy and that isn’t exactly how it works inside the body but it is a great way to think about it. The scope of this post won’t allow for me to convince you that addiction is a disease. If you need convincing, stop reading and go research disease of addiction then come back.

The question “why” can be answered differently for every person suffering from addiction. The one solid truth is that none of these ways include lack of willpower or lack of self discipline. Problematic drug use is not what I am talking about here. I am talking about dependency. The disease that allows certain people’s bodies to become dependent on a substance of choice. There are many different ways to treat addiction. The invisible side of addiction that I speak of is where I do my work. That work is in the emotional side of drug use. I don’t focus on making better choices, getting a sponsor, changing the way you live, or any other behavioral type of things. Those are all very important aspects to treatment but there are a great many resources for that. The majority of treatment centers are going to treat those aspects of addiction. My work in addictions is deeper and takes more time than in-patient treatment centers have to spend with individual patients.

Addiction, emotions, therapy, counseling

My therapy starts with individuals figuring out why they abused a substance in the first place. Often times it comes down to one of two reasons. The first one has to do with having fun with friends. You would party with your friends and they were able to party on Friday night and Saturday. After that, they could live a normal life and not think about partying until the next weekend. Those with the disease of addiction developed a craving and an uncontrollable urge to use every day and when you didn’t use you had physical aliments from it. The second reason people abuse a substance is because life sucks sometimes. Something happened to you or someone you love and it was too much for you to handle and you found a way to not feel whatever emotion was involved. (NOTE: not everyone will be able to put themselves perfectly into one of those boxes)

The place where your drug abuse meets the emotion you don’t want to feel is where long term treatment begins. Remember, this is after you have made the necessary behavioral changes. No matter what situation you find yourself in there are emotions involved.

If you are suffering from an addiction right now - start by asking yourself some questions. What emotions do I feel that I know are uncomfortable to me? What emotions am I wanting to numb? What emotions drive me to use more frequently? These emotions could come from dark times in your life. Be sure to not start this process alone. The one thing you cannot do is ignore this invisible side of addiction. In my opinion, if you ignore your emotions, you might never be able to stay in recovery.


Chris Depew is a therapist and operates a private counseling practice in Huntsville Alabama and he focuses on personality disorders, addictions, and divorce care but helps anyone find peace in the middle of troubled times.

Notebooks, Anxiety, and Sleep

Anxiety disorders are very common in the United States. I would say that half of all the phone calls I receive at my office have to do with some form of anxiety problem. The Anxiety and Depression Association of American says that anxiety disorders are present in about 18% of the population. They also mention that only about one-third of those that suffer from the disorder seek treatment.

The disorder can disrupt many parts of your life. The one that I hear clients talk about the most is sleep. Anxiety has the nasty effect of keeping your brain going at full speed all day long and even when you are ready to go to sleep or want to go to sleep. Mostly, people say the worries of the day or the worries about tomorrow are what keep them up. This is can be dangerous because it takes very few days with poor sleep for individuals to start having cognitive problems. The good news is that some people have reported good results using a simple cognitive trick.

Sleep, How to sleep better, get more sleep

It starts by keeping a notebook and a pen by the bed. Every night, or just the nights you can't get to sleep, open the notebook and write down everything that is going on in your head. It could be numbers or pictures or just phrases. Really you are just trying to do a brain dump on the page. For some people this tricks the brain into thinking that they have completed or done their part on those worries for the time being. Even if for just long enough for them to get to sleep. It also allows them to process some of the things that are bothering them and that might in itself help to eliminate anxiety.

Here are a few other quick things that can help with sleep at night.

  1. Avoid alcohol
  2. Avoid caffeine
  3. Make sure you stop using your electronics an hour of so before you lay down in your bed.
  4. Don't do anything in your bed other than sleep and have sex.

Chris Depew is a therapist and operates a private counseling practice in Huntsville Alabama and he focuses on personality disorders, addictions, and divorce care but helps anyone find peace in the middle of troubled times.

Chris Depew, MA, ALC | 116 Jefferson St. S Suite 208 Huntsville, AL 35801