Counselling parents of a disabled child/children
Living with a disabled child or who has a life changing condition
For some people, the thought of having a disabled child is nothing more than ‘well it’s just one of those things’ But for a lot of people, it is the beginning of a life of never ending trauma, anxiety, depression, isolation, guilt, anger, frustration, sleep deprivation/sleep issues, unhealthy eating habits, denial, dread, grief, overwhelming hopelessness, helplessness and ongoing stress. These parents have to learn how to cope in a world of changing attitudes toward both them and the child as well as society’s attitude to disability. In addition, they have to learn to understand the layers of bureaucracy, form filling and get their heads around what the impact of the lack of resources within the NHS means for them and what they have to do in order to overcome this.
Facing up to reality
Similarly, for some parents just the mere fact of facing up to reality, coming to terms with the diagnosis and prognosis and accepting the term ‘disabled child’ can be too much for them. Equally, those who have seen their child nearly die or undergo invasive medical interventions or take cancer-treating chemotherapy may be in a constant state of heightened anxiety and chronic sorrow. That’s why it is paramount for those individuals that they seek the appropriate counselling and therapy from counsellors and/or psychotherapists who have the expert knowledge of what it means to have a disabled child. It is important that everyone involved is this therapeutic journey is aware of the ongoing trauma these individuals now face as a result of the new world they have now been forced into.
Counsellor’s knowledge and understanding
For many counsellors, these issues or rather the understanding of these issues may be difficult specifically if they have been fortunate enough not to have ever experienced those feelings. Although I do not have a child who is disabled, I do have a child who was suffering from a life threatening condition and I did, therefore, suffer all of those emotions that I mentioned above.
On a happier note, it was heart warming to watch the Para-Olympics and see how individuals who were either born with life changing disabilities or who had been struck with a disability have chosen to live a life that defies belief and are able to achieve results even the most able-bodied would struggle with achieving. So it shows that with determination, will power, self-belief and encouragement the impossible is possible. It is essential that parents who have a disabled child or a child with a life changing illness seek therapy forthwith in order to explore in a therapeutic setting the negative impact this may be having on not only their health but also on the health of those living within the family – i.e. siblings and other close family members – and find positive ways forward. In my opinion, counselling, talk therapies and EMDR are much more beneficial than psychiatric drugs as they can help people deal with the overwhelming feelings of guilt, ongoing trauma and the ruminating thoughts and feelings of pre and post the traumatic incident.
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