Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Therapy Thursday: Change the Locks

pocket therapist front cover small.jpgI have decided to dedicate a post on Thursday to therapy, and offer you the many tips I have learned on the couch. They will be a good reminder for me, as well, of something small I can concentrate on. Many of them are published in my book, “The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Kit.

This is a way of taking back control.


Of your thoughts.

Of your brain.

Of your life.

On a piece of paper, draw an oval–it’s an oval office–and in the oval, write “Me, the conscious self,” because you are the President of Yourself, a nation currently under siege. Now draw a bunch of hallways connected to that oval office. Other people and their opinions travel down those hallways. Most often they arrive at the door to the oval office and they enter. The locks on the doorways into these passages are on the outside, giving the people control over when and how often they visit with their opinions and beliefs.

You want to reverse those locks, so that only you have control over who (or what) visits you, how long, and how often.


If you are in a vulnerable place–feeling like your depression is all your fault, and you are a pathetic human being for not being able to pick yourself up by your bootstraps–you might want to lock the doorway to the librarian woman with the tight bun and high-collared blouse who asks you if you truly WANT to get better, implying, of course, that are willing yourself to stay sick because you’re getting so much attention and because fantasizing about death is so much fun. Yes, the witch who depletes your self-esteem by telling you that your suffering is all in your imagination can stay behind her locked door.

The guy with the long-stem roses? He can come in and visit you all he wants.

Click here to subscribe to Beyond Blue and click here to follow Therese on Twitter and click here to join Group Beyond Blue, a depression support group. Now stop clicking.

  • Joe Gonzalez

    Extremely valuable strategy-tool.

  • Your Name. Marty

    Good morning, Therese!
    thank you for your honesty, openness, and candor in discussing and revealing your innermost thoughts.
    I am 66 and have a young friend (24) whom I’ve known since she was 13 in a professional capacity before I retired.
    She is a victim of parental abuse and neglect, of sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence. She is currently incarcerated again and has spent more time in jail the past four years than not. She purges, cuts and almost constantly berates herself, remains addicted to heroin and alcohol, and has completed a court-mandated residental drug treatment program. Before her most recent jailing for theft, she was expelled from two different homeless shelters for using at one and being involved inappropriately with a male at the other, then hung out with him for drinking, drugging and sexing, until both were jailed.
    She feels thoroughly and overwhelmingly defeated, has a death-wish of high magnitude, and is suffering from a profound depression that she says never goes away.
    I am no stranger to depressing and I have maintained a professional career in the mental health field as a psychoeducational professional and seem to have run out of ideas and word comforts for her, though I absolutely refuse to give up on her, even though she very badly abused my trust in her latest escapades.
    Do you have a post which is among the best ever which speaks to cognitive/behavioral ways in a succint and useable way?
    She has been in thearapy in different institutinal settings and seems to do okay for a little while then collapses under the weight of her troubles, feeling desperate, unlovable, unworthy, and hoping daily that she will be taken from her life of misery.
    I have a friend who is a clinical professional still practicing and we are both kind of stymied as to how best to help her defeat her demons and to learn how to accept and love herself for the worthy, unique and valuable person she is.
    Thanks for whatever response you may make. I have written her your blogs verbatim because they seem to hit where her feelings go.
    Thanks again for your courage and super writings.

  • jennifer

    Very good!!

  • S

    I just ordered your book… No roses for now…so book will have to do.. Thanks Therese :)

  • Maggie

    Therese, this is great. As soon as I read about who to let in “MY Oval Office,” I grabbed my pencil and paper and began to draw. It was so easy for me to put the names of those I wanted to open the doors for (which totaled nine). But at the same time, considering I have so many family and friends, it truly opened my eyes as to how many I left out – and deservedly so.
    Thank you for this great tool!
    God bless you.

  • Your Name

    My heart is my office.Only those desserving of my love can enter,lol.
    OH WELL,Therese,i just think about doing what is right,i live only what God graces me and i follow all my Mother’s teachings and Father’s too.No matter what,i do my best in everything i do,when i have some flaws,i remind myself that i am not a perfect being,my perfection and completion is on God and in God’s hands.There is nothing i can ever do until God allows them to happen,i can dream all dreams but only God grants that dream,so,Therese let me just settle down myself into submission into what God allows me to be,i forget totally about myself,i guess i allow God to take care of myself,because,truly,only by God’s grace that we are alive everyday,what’s more important than this breath of life from God to ask for,nope!God is everything to me.

  • Wildstar

    This is fantastic! I can apply it to a bunch of people and situations. Yeah change the locks! Sometimes, (being a creative person) I imagine my brain is a big room with a lot of filing cabinets. Up there lives a grandmother with her white hair in a bun and a flowered dress. She takes care of the filing cabinets with her two grandkids, a little boy and a little girl. When things get out of hand, she takes out a fire hose and washes it all down. The mess flows out of the room and out a side window and out of my brain. Or the grandkids sweep it all clean. Then they sit by another window and have tea and cookies at a table with a white cloth on it. Yeah I know it’s weird but imagining this sometimes is what I need to do.

  • Allison

    Really helpful ideas. Now I just need to find the locksmith in my head. I’m sure he’s here somewhere. :-)

  • Leeann

    oh Therese how i missed your blogs i purchased all three books beyond blue, pocket therapist and imperfect mom. I immediately read beyond blue and imperfect mom both very good and highly recommended. I have not read pocket therapist yet but iam sure i will enjoy it as much. Imperfect mom was hard for me to read given the fact iam one!!! and struggling and have been since before my divorce as well as with my amincipated teenager. Thank you so much for all your insights and sharing your struggles as well. God bless
    Your friend Leeann


    Yes. Pass on Your Wisdom and knowledge…What is Just, What is Good and What is True.

  • mary prima

    great idea, thanks

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