Chronic Illness Counselling in Vancouver

Hi there, 

My name is Myriame, and I’m a Registered Clinical Counsellor in Canada offering chronic illness counselling for individuals living in Vancouver and across British Columbia.

 

You may be feeling shocked about a recent diagnosis, frustrated with the medical system, disconnected from others, or grieving the life you had before a chronic condition diagnosis. You are not alone. I’m here to help.

 

As a chronic illness counsellor, I have a passion for helping people feel more empowered while living with a chronic illness through emotional awareness and resilience, mindfulness, and evidence-based practices, such as Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). 

 

If you’re curious about creating a safe space to talk about your condition, schedule a free phone consultation with me today. 

Chronic-Illness-Counselling.png

My Approach to Chronic Illness Counselling in British Columbia

Chronic illnesses, also known as chronic diseases, are health conditions that are persistent and generally slow in progression, which can be treated but often not cured.¹

 

The unfortunate reality of chronic illnesses is that they are not as uncommon as we hoped. In Canada, 44% of adults over 20 years old have at least 1 of 10 common chronic conditions.²

prevalence-canadian-adults-infographic-2019-eng copy.png

As seen in the Public Health Agency of Canada infographic, chronic illnesses vary greatly. From hypertension, mood and anxiety disorders to cancer and dementia, chronic illnesses come in many shapes and sizes. 

 

As a counsellor with special interest in chronic health conditions, I’ve found that everyone deals with their diagnosis and health progression differently. This said, I have also noticed that the mental health impacts are similar despite the differences in illnesses. It can be relieving to know that you are not alone with your experiences. Of course your experience is your own, and we will make space together for what is important to you to talk about. 

 

When folks make space for themselves in the counselling room, it is not uncommon to talk about different areas of their lives, such as life transitions, death and dying, role changes, family and social dynamics, work-life balance, dating with chronic condition {insert link}, self-advocacy, and much more. While some topics are more difficult to discuss, others feel more approachable. With time, gentle curiosity and safety, we can have those harder conversations, explore different perspectives on them, make meaningful connections and feel a sense of release, relief, and calm that is indicative of a healing experience.

 

What a Session With Me Can Look Like

When attending a therapy session, you can expect me to be curious about your journey of living with an illness so far, and about what is most bothersome or challenging you now. These therapy sessions are not different from other sessions, however there might initially be time spent ‘painting the picture’ of your current life with a chronic illness so that I can best walk alongside and support you in your journey. This means that I might inquire about your medical and allied healthcare professional team, ask about past and current medications that might influence your energy, strength and mood, or ask clarifying questions about how specific symptoms impact your daily life.

As you most likely know, living with a chronic illness is a unique experience. If you need special accommodation(s), please don’t hesitate to contact me for more information about how the office and building is set up. Symptom presentation is different for most; together we will attend to what is most important for you. 

Being Newly Diagnosed with a Chronic Condition

For some, the journey of living with a chronic condition might have just begun. If you are newly diagnosed {link to blog}, you might be feeling many mixed emotions. It’s normal to feel sad, angry, afraid, or even relieved. These emotions are natural to feel given the circumstances. 

As an emotionally-focused therapist, I believe that being able to identify and feel the 7 core emotions (sadness, anger, fear, disgust, excitement, joy, and sexual excitement) is an important part of navigating life with a chronic illness. If you feel ashamed, guilty or anxious, you can think of these emotions as inhibitory or manufactured emotions that are blocking you from your core emotions. Try to get curious about what core emotions are not being expressed or felt. You can even use the Change Triangle - by Hilary Jacobs Hendel - to get you unstuck from inhibitory emotions. 

As we create a safe space together in counselling, you might start to make better sense of your experiences. You might feel more clear about the emotions you are feeling, calmer about living with a chronic condition, and maybe even more connected to and compassionate towards yourself. Being newly diagnosed is not easy. Know that you don’t have to do it alone. Connect with me to talk about how we might be able to work together.

AEDP-Change-Triangle.png

Chronic Illnesses Impact on Mental Health

The more common impacts that chronic illnesses have on folks’ mental health are: 

  • Grief and loss

  • Depression

  • Anxiety and stress

  • Anger and resentment

  • Emotional burnout

 

These impacts are of course not exhaustive, but are quite common in my counselling practice. They also make sense in the landscape of change. Being diagnosed or living with a chronic illness is extremely difficult. Your emotional reactions to this change are normal. 

 

The emotional journey after a diagnosis or living with a chronic condition is also not linear. Similar to dealing with grief {link grief service page}, living with a chronic illness means navigating daily life carefully and intimately, while being aware of two or more simultaneous experiences at the same time. For instance, you can be hyper-attuned to your gut’s pain while also enjoying a bike ride around Stanley Park in Vancouver.

Not only are you aware of the physical challenges of living with a chronic condition, but you might also notice a change in your mood.  The impacts that chronic illnesses have on mental health can be far-reaching, just as they can be subtle. Sometimes  you aren't even aware that a change in mood has happened.  Sometimes a close friend or family member brings attention to it. This can be hard to hear, but know that they are noticing something in you that they also want you to take note of. As best as you can, try to receive their observations with gentle curiosity. You might even work with them to find mental health support services {link resource page} that work for you. 

Integrating the pieces or layers of living with a chronic condition takes time. And so, you may not be your “usual self.”  Whatever mental or emotional place you are in right now, remember that you are not broken. You might be feeling stuck, but know that movement is possible. Your experience of living with a chronic illness is your own. Let’s make room to honour it together. 

 

If you have any questions about getting started with chronic illness counselling sessions in Vancouver or British Columbia or any other questions about my approach to counselling, feel free to get in touch.

stages-of-grief-charts-2.jpeg

Chronic Illness Counselling in British Columbia FAQs 

How do you deal with chronic illnesses mentally?

As you probably have inferred, there are many ways to mentally deal with chronic illnesses. As an emotionally-focused therapist, I get curious about what it would look and feel like for each client to “deal” with chronic illnesses. Each person has their own definition and therefore goal of what this means. And so getting clear about what it means for you to “deal with chronic illnesses” is extremely important. For some it's about finding tools and strategies to navigate stressful situations as they arise,  while for others it's about exploring the different emotions that exist  beneath the surface and impact everyday living.  One of the recommended ways to deal with chronic illness mentally is to seek out a mental health professional,  such as a chronic illness counsellor like myself.

How does chronic illness affect a person psychologically?

Chronic illnesses can affect a person psychologically by impacting both their mood and perception. These impacts can leave someone feeling stuck and alone.  As mentioned above, it is natural for your mood to change after being diagnosed, noticing changes in your symptoms and living daily with a chronic illness . Feeling sad or even angry about the changes that are happening in your body is normal; as is feeling excited about a potential new medication. 

Another experience that people have when living with a chronic illness is the perception changes about themselves and the world. You may start thinking: “I’m broken,” “I’m less than,” or “I’m not good enough.” Negative beliefs, like these ones, can impact your feelings and behaviours, which impact your overall quality of life. Don’t believe everything that you think. Becoming aware of your thoughts can be an important way to intervene and start feeling better.

What are examples of chronic illnesses?

Chronic illnesses that are more common are:

  • Diabetes

  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Hyper or hypotension

  • Cancer(s)

  • Mood disorders (stress, anxiety, depression)

  • Chronic pain

  • Heart or lung disease

 

Others that aren’t as common are: 

  • Crohn’s disease

  • Ulcerative Colitis

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis 

 

These lists are not exhaustive, but are some of the health conditions that I have worked with as a chronic illness counsellor in Vancouver, BC.

 

How does chronic illness affect quality of life?

It would make sense that being diagnosed and living with a chronic illness would affect the quality of your life. This is not what you expected, nor is it something that you ever wanted. So it is normal for a dip in the quality of your life to happen. There is definitely an adjustment phase that happens at the beginning, but also throughout your life, as you continue to learn to live with the illness. For some it will be an easier journey, while for others it will be a lot harder. Your experience is your own. You are not broken; you might be a little bit stuck, and with the help of a mental health professional, like myself, you can get unstuck and start to feel better today.

Get Chronic Illness Counselling in British Columbia from a Registered Clinical Counsellor

 

I know you might be feeling overwhelmed and scared. It’s okay not to be okay. I also know that taking the first step to getting support is hard. Thank you for being here. 

 

If you feel curious about me or my counselling services, please reach out for a free 15 minute phone consultation to see if I’m the right fit for you.