Life Threatening Illness: Can Counselling Help?
2nd January, 2010
“With my illness, you become a social outcast....”
“I’ve lost all interest in life...”
“It’s the type of disease where you won’t know how it’s going to hit you”
“I’m clear of cancer now..but how do I know it won’t return..?”
“I can’t make any long range plans. I’ve just stopped living, I guess.”
Uncertainty, helplessness, depression and isolation:
The above are just a few of many emotions individuals and families experience in the face of life threatening illness.
There can be a wide-reaching affect – the challenges of coping with serious illness, for example Cancer, can reverberate through a persons’ entire family. Stress upon family members may be great, or greater than experienced by the patient. Illness can affect a family in many ways, mainly in terms of a shared crisis, for example the healthy partner may feel he/she must not show upset he/she is because it may somehow exacerbate their partners’ worries; however, the result might be mean increased levels of anxiety, irritability and depression. Of course, this may well happen in reverse, with the patient also suppressing feelings, so as not to worry their family.
Very often when a person is ill, their role as a ‘patient’ is a passive one, with feelings of helplessness and an increasing sense of lack of control. If the person has had Cancer, the fear of it returning can become overwhelming; expressing those fears and experiencing acceptance...and sometimes challenges from the counsellor...the client can then begin to look at, and focus on possible ways of moving forward in their life...and feeling empowered enough to realise, and utilise their personal choices. Very often the counsellor is a kind of ‘travelling companion’ to the client, facilitating a way forward.........
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