Gathering data is one of the most important parts of giving good and godly counsel (Pro. 18:13). The two primary ways a counselor can gather data are directly and indirectly. Jay Adams says “overtly and covertly” (The Biblical Counselor’s Manuel, p. 257ff.) Direct information comes as a result of asking the counselee for information and their responding by telling you what they think. Indirect information comes as you observe the counselee during the time you are with him. You notice he is sleepy, or rigid, or nervous, or that his eyes are dilated, or that he is sweating. You can tell a lot about a person by simply observing him. The information you gather when simply observing is called halo data. It is the data that goes all around the direct information you are gathering.
I agree with Bob Smith about observing halo data in a depressed person:
Depression is one of the conditions with much halo data. The first place to look is the most obvious — the counselee’s face. His face literally oozes a “what’s the use” attitude. His eyelids tend to droop, the corners of his mouth are turned down and seem to pull the entire facial expression down with them. His face is long, grim, and sad. He appears listless and generally expresses an air of helplessness or hopelessness. Written on his face is what is going on inside him.
All other visual and auditory clues or data follow the same pattern. His voice is quiet and his speech tends to be slow. His voice is a monotone with little or no expression. As he talks tears may come to his eyes. He may not look at the counselor but at the floor. He sits with a droop to his shoulders as though pushed down by the weight of the corners of his mouth. His hands rest limply in his lap. There is very little motion of his body as he talks. He walks slowly and at times almost shuffles. There is little life, spring, or bounce that shows some expenditure of energy. He is interested in doing what he does with as little effort as possible.
This describes the classic depression. All these things are not always present but there will be varying degrees of some of the signs present in most depressed people.
Occasionally a depressed person displays the exact opposite signs. He is overactive, fidgety, impatient, irritable, and talks fast but with disconnected speech. However, his physical symptoms are those of the classic depression.