There is an old saying that it’s not the situation, but how you react to it, that matters in life.
Here at Revive, the counselling team are all about helping people to manage their reaction to whatever life throws at them – and to turn that ‘reaction’ into a purposeful ‘response’. The people we see are managing big life events stemming from their MS – whether that’s coming to terms with the diagnosis and the unpredictable course of the disease, adjusting to increasing levels of disability, becoming unable to work, relating to friends and family in new ways, or coping with symptoms such as spasms, incontinence or pain which can limit their ability to enjoy things. But of course life is so much more than MS, and many of our clients are experiencing anxiety, depression or bereavement as a result of any number of other life challenges.
The counselling approach we use at Revive is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT. CBT looks at the relationship between someone’s thoughts (particularly the automatic negative thoughts which pop into their heads over and over), their feelings and emotions, physical sensations, and their behaviour. People can often get stuck in patterns of thinking and behaving that don’t serve them. For example, someone who uses a wheelchair for the first time may feel reluctant to go out and meet old friends, and hide away at home. This can lead to low mood and social isolation, making them even less likely to make contact with others. Someone who has been forced to give up their regular job because of their MS may feel like a failure, leading to depression and meaning that they don’t find other purposeful things they could be doing with their time. CBT uses a range of tools and techniques to figure out the patterns and – gently – to build confidence through behaviour experiments, enabling people to lead fuller lives. And above all, as counsellors we provide people with that confidential space to say whatever they can’t say to their family and friends and to process what’s going on.
Geraldine Mynors – Revive Counselling Coordinator