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Therapy for individuals living with a chronic medical condition

The psychological impact of medical conditions, and their treatment, can vary enormously but have the potential to have a large psychological impact on individuals and pose significant challenges in family life. When they are at their most challenging it can feel as though the medical condition has taken over and the rest of life is in the shadow of the diagnosis.

I work with individuals and families across the lifespan to support their experiences and feelings surrounding their condition and its impact, to reduce the burden and understand its position in family life. I aim to help individuals adapt, sustain a sense of hope and connect with their identity, strengths and resources outside of their medical condition.

There are many different 'stages' to living with a medical condition, each with its own psychological challenges including:

Pre-diagnosis: Some individuals have lived with confusing or worrying symptoms for some time before receiving a diagnosis while for others there is a rapid onset to symptoms and the diagnosis may be very unexpected. Additionally there may have been a long process to understanding the medical diagnosis involving lots of professionals and requiring a lot of effort to understand what's happening. 

Diagnosis: The experience of receiving a medical diagnosis for yourself or your family member can stir up lots of feelings including shock, confusion and anger. There is nothing 'wrong' with anything you feel (or don't feel) at this time and there are no time limits on any feelings. However for some individuals or families these experiences may feel too overwhelming, may interact with - or add significantly to- preexisting psychological challenges or may begin to interfere with life.

Living with a lifelong medical diagnosis and its treatment: After diagnosis many individuals and families confront the reality of living with a diagnosis, the impact on their life and the impact of its treatment. There is no set linear process and no set way of coping or adjustment. However the hope is that individuals and families can be supported to develop capacities to face their reality, sustain and develop important relationships and find ways to live with meaning and connection to their values. 

Life-limiting or life threatening diagnoses: For some who receive diagnoses which may impact on life expectancy then there are some different psychological challenges to face. These may include living with uncertainty and loss as well as a reorganisation and reworking of individual and family identity.

Living with a medical condition can impact on individuals and family members in different ways and at different times in the illness journey and stage of life. Sometimes new ways of coping need to be developed or strengthened and old ways let go of at different stages in life. I aim to support children, adolescents and adults confront the challenges of living with a medical condition, enhance resilience and find new ways of living and thriving.

I have worked with individuals with a range of medical diagnoses including skin conditions, diabetes and other endocrinological conditions and neurological conditions. I have also worked with individuals at varying stages of life with a chronic medical condition including, the search for a diagnosis, receiving a diagnosis and its aftermath, making sense of the meaning of a diagnosis and its prognosis and adjustment to treatment requirements.

Therapy for individuals living with a dermatological disorder.

Living with a skin condition

I specialise in working with individuals with a range of dermatological conditions including eczema, psoriasis, acne, vitiligo, alopecia as well as vascular anomalies, ichthyosis and epidermolysis bullosa. Living with skin disease can adversely impact on all aspects of people's lives, including a negative impact on psychological wellbeing and self-esteem.

The link between mind and skin is complex and unique to each person. It may be that living with a skin condition impacts on mood, relationships or psychological wellbeing. Alternatively it may be that an individuals psychological difficulties are expressed through the body by skin picking or nail biting. Additionally there are those whose skin and mind interact with one another whereby psychological or relational stress may trigger a flare up or, in reverse, a flare up may lead to increased anxiety or mood difficulties. Individuals and their family members living with skin disease may experience isolation, embarrassment, shame, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. 

I offer psychological input for young people to make sense of living with a skin condition, increase resilience and to reduce the psychological impact of living with such a condition. 

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