Living with Disability
Sudden and expected changes in a person’s life come with several psychological conditions that he or she must cope up with. The situation gets worse if the changes result in permanent changes in one’s physical capability like an inability to walk. According to the World Health Organization, nearly one billion people live with disability in the world, a significant population of these people in low-income countries (WHO, 2018). The primary causes of disability in the world include violence, burns, child abuses and motor vehicle accidents (WHO, 2018). Besides the pain, conditions such as psychological trauma, sensory disability, Post-traumatic stress disorder and neuro-trauma among others are common (Nishi, Matsuoka, & Kim., 2010). An accident survivor, especially where the victim becomes disabled, needs a lot of psychological support to accept the changes in their lives (Nishi, Matsuoka, & Kim., 2010). This paper looks into three issues that a counselor should consider while taking such a client through therapy sessions.
The first step in healing is accepting the current situation and appreciates the fact that a person cannot go back to their previous condition. Acceptance not only helps in reducing the stress resulting from the loss but also provide the victim with energy to face the future (Craske, 2010). For a person that initially had the capability of performing nearly all physical tasks without any help, he or she must accept the changes that come with the new condition. Since I will be in a wheelchair the rest of my life, I will forever unable to perform tasks such as bathing alone, jogging in the compound and certainly having difficulties in having intimacy.
Making the victim accept his or her current situation and turns the past experience into positive perspective is the foundation of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is particularly important when dealing with emotional dysfunctions, behaviors, and cognition. It adopts a result oriented approach when helping the patients recover from their current situation. People tend to live in denial more often than not when they are faced with life-changing situations like disability from an accident. Denial result to self-blame and feeling of worthlessness which leads to suicidal thoughts.
Cognitive behavior therapy seeks to change the perception of the victim on their experience by changing their thoughts. Actions and thoughts have a close relationship and change in one affect the other. For example, a positive thinking influences the actions of an individual and his or her feelings too. The relationship is the foundation of cognitive behavior therapy at seeks to change the feelings and actions of a person through influencing the thoughts into positives (Beck, 2011). In other words, a counselor using CBT primarily focuses on convincing his or her patient to accept the current situation and looks at the positive side of it. In essence, CBT seeks to help the victim get a positive outcome out of their depressing situation.
Acceptance a situation relies on the change of perception from negative to positive. In the beginning, it is certain that I will have difficulty believing that I will never be in a position to have intimacy with my partner. The feeling of denial and self-unworthiness will creep in resulting in depression or even suicidal thoughts. As a disabled person with an inability to have intimate activity with my partner, I must devise new ways of handling the situation. Firstly, I have to change the view towards the act at take away the blame from myself. Personal blames only result to stress which consequently creates other medical conditions such as anxiety, depression, and loss of appetite. These stress-related conditions only prolong the recovery period from the injuries due to the accident.
Secondly, I have to find an alternative way of self-gratification. Intimacy is just a feeling that can be suppressed through a shift of focus to other matters. Most importantly, I have to get inspirations from other people who have lived without having intimacy. Additionally, I have to believe in my other capabilities like metal strength. Focusing on strengths rather than weakness not only gives a sense of self-worthiness but also boost self-esteem since you get convinced that you can also do every other person can do, if not better.
Conquering low-esteem after is one of the biggest steps in the recovery process. Inability to perform simple tasks that initially did not require any assistance certainly affects the feeling of self-worthiness and impacts negatively on self-confidence. Using the cognitive behavior therapy, viewing the experience from a positive angle is critical in tackling the future. Firstly, accepting that some tasks are impossible to undertake is a big step in acceptance. Secondly, focusing the energy on my abilities helps in bringing back the self-confidence and ultimately self-worthiness.
Personal security and that of people around me certainly becomes a major concern since I am not in a position to physically protect myself. I will certainly feel vulnerable and soft spot for any potential attacker. However, I must understand that no one is entirely safe regardless of their physical condition. Secondly, personal security does not wholly rely on physical ability but knowledge on self-defense mechanisms. Some of which does not require one to be ‘physically able.’
Beck, J. (2011). Cognitive-behavioral therapy. Clinical textbook of addictive disorders, 474-501.
Craske, M. (2010). Cognitive–behavioral therapy. Psychological Association.
Nishi, D., Matsuoka, Y., & Kim., Y. (2010). Posttraumatic growth, posttraumatic stress disorder and resilience of motor vehicle accident survivors. BioPsychoSocial Medicine, 4(1), 7.
WHO. (2018). Injury-related disability and rehabilitation. Retrieved April 12, 2018, from World Health Organization.