Coping with Disability or Illness

While no one wants to experience a traumatic disability or illness, we all remain vulnerable to such tragedies. Shock, disbelief, denial, anger and despair often follow a devastating injury or illness. People understandably find it extremely difficult to cope with such an unwelcome event. Children, in particular, risk developing low self-esteem. Most people who suffer from disability or chronic illness need help adjusting to and accepting their current circumstances and planning for their future.

In addition to the individual’s life, long-term illness and disability can impact one’s family. Spouses, children and extended family often are deeply affected by the individual’s hardship, pain or suffering. Family members may feel emotionally or physically unprepared to adjust to new circumstances or to offer their assistance.

When coping with disability or illness or while undergoing medical treatment, people can derive great benefit from working with a therapist or counselor who has the clinical knowledge and experience to guide them through such a crisis. Sensitive to the challenges faced by everyone involved, a psychologist provides the individual or family with new perspectives and coping skills. A life that has become markedly more limited or is nearing completion can still be filled with happiness, meaning and fulfilling relationships.

Individuals need adequate time to work through the complex array of issues associated with making significant life changes and altering views of the future. While disease and mortality are at the heart of the human condition, they vary widely in the emotional response evoked. Treatment therefore requires the kind of therapeutic intervention that takes account of the specific attributes of one’s disability or illness, personality, and social circumstances.

For expert assistance with the emotional burdens of illness or disability, seek out a psychologist or counselor who specializes in this area. The therapist should be knowledgeable about the various psychological stages people pass through before they can resolve, accept and positively adjust to new, often trying circumstances. As a patient, you should experience your therapist as an empathic listener and as someone respectful of your on-going struggle. Finally, your therapist should provide you with support and offer a knowledge-based and realistic vision of possibility.

If you would like my help, you can schedule an appointment with me by calling my office at 904-687-6336. I look forward to working with you.