When we are born, the only thing that is certain is that one day we will die. Yet there are no lessons in school, no college courses or university degrees to teach us how to prepare for this certainty. In our western culture, dying is not discussed around the family dinner table or in the local pub, in fact it is barely mentioned in any aspect of our lives unless forced upon us by a death in our family or of a close friend. How then can we be expected to cope when we are told by our doctor that we have a terminal illness and there is no hope of a cure?
The main thing I have learned in my experience of working within this field, is that every person reacts differently as this devastating news affects them in so many different ways. Mentally, emotionally, physically, practically and spiritually It will change their self-image and their lifestyle and also change relationships within their family and within their larger community of friends and colleagues. Depending on the nature of the illness or disease, this will have its own progressive, debilitating effect, both physically and mentally.
So how can counselling possibly help with all of this?
It is a well-researched and documented fact that people who are prepared for death will die much more peacefully and I see my role as supporting, informing and helping you to prepare for that time as much as possible. As a counsellor/psychotherapist, I will always be open and as honest as possible whatever you wish to discuss, non-judgemental about any regrets you may have and explore with you, ways to help resolve any practical matters or concerns that are troubling you. As a qualified hypnotherapist, I can teach you relaxation techniques and help with sleep problems. I can also teach self-hypnosis to enable you to reduce your own pain levels, giving you back some amount of control in this most trying time.
When someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness it affects the whole family, partners, children and parents can all need help to cope with all the changes it will bring to their lives. The carers can often feel neglected as they struggle with a very difficult and unexpected situation with no preparation or training and they are often the ones that need the most support. I am happy to work with family groups, or one to one with any individual family members that feel they may need help.
The service I offer is one of therapeutic support having gained specialised training while working at Forest Holme Hospice, a palliative care unit attached to Poole Hospital, as part of the volunteer bereavement support team for over 9 years.
The term ‘palliative care’ derives from the Latin word palliare, which means ‘to cloak’ and this relates to the medical process of administering drugs to mask the symptoms or pain of an illness or disease for which there is no cure. While this is the accepted term in hospitals and hospices, therapeutic support does not really fall into this category. In my experience, people want or need to talk about many different things, sometimes family matters, work related issues, memories from the past, both good and bad, financial concerns for those they are leaving behind and sometimes you may simply want to talk about the latest news from politics to sport and while this could be perceived as avoidance, it may just be that there is no-one else to talk to about these things. Some people will want to talk about the medical side of things in great detail and while I am not a doctor or consultant, I will not ‘cloak’ or avoid the difficult questions and while I may not have the answers, I will always do my best for you.
The therapy sessions are normally held in our ‘Peacehaven’ therapy room, a very comfortable, calm and private space in the garden of our home. I understand that some clients will find it difficult or even impossible to visit a therapist and in these cases I do offer home visits for a small additional cost within a reasonable radius. Alternatively, the sessions can be conducted by telephone if you prefer.