A way forward: Wellness Counselling in Chronic Disease Conditions

Challenges of Patients with Chronic Disease Conditions:

1. Hopelessness about recovery or cure. 

2. The very poor physical condition of the patient.

3. Severe side effects of medication such as depression and anxiety.

4. Loneliness and isolation.

5. Lack of self will or motivation to move forward.

6. Tremendous physical and mental pain.

7. A vicious circle of pain, hopelessness, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Limitations of Classical Counseling:

1. Words often have little meaning for the patient, especially if he is a child.

2. Unless there is an immediate relief, the patient is not interested.

3. There is no physical stamina left to do anything except lie down.

4. Thinking faculties are severely stretched.

5. Medicines themselves create lethargy, drowsiness, and physical issues.

Counselling Beyond Words:

1. This approach recognizes that each patient is very different from the other and requires a customized therapeutic solution.

2. It also takes into account the fact that the patient goes through a number of physical and mental states even during the day.

3. It focuses on achieving quick demonstrable results, even if transient, in getting relief for the patient so that he is motivated to take further counselling/ therapies.

4. It uses a bouquet of complementary therapies such as Art therapy, Music therapy, Bio-guided imageries, Clinical hypnosis, Reflexology, Tibetan bowl therapy, EFT Tapping technique, Sound Healing etc in a manner suited to the patient at the time of treatment.

5. Its building blocks are:    

  • Obtaining personal insight into the patient and his state of mind.
  • Providing some immediate physical and mental relief or comfort to make him receptive.
  • Initiating positive change in his state of mind.  
  • Increasing feelings of self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence- Teaching skills for meditation, self-hypnosis, mind and body control etc.   
  • Generating resilience and stamina to withstand pain, stress, and discomfort.

6. The opportunity to touch, hear, empathize and counsel through various therapies used in a holistic manner, makes the lives of the patients happier, healthier and calmer.

Personal Experience:

I have been using the above-integrated approach with my patients both in the hospital settings and outside with remarkable results. Patients suffering from cancer including in palliative state, from schizophrenia, from accidents, from sexual abuse have all benefited by my customized therapeutic approach. My goal has been to help patients understand the origin of their feelings and re-frame/ re-orient them for coping with the disease. For instance, a child who had met with an accident and was reduced to an invalid state was brought to me in a wheelchair. The challenge before me was how I could make a positive change in her health. Initially, by administering foot reflexology at appropriate points in a specific manner, I could restore some of the health energy flow, besides providing comfort and a sense of well-being to the child. After a few days, I used Tibetan bowl therapy by placing 4 bowls around her head. The striking of the bowls gave rise to rhythmic sound waves and started to show good results in her cognitive skills. Another patient who was suffering from terminal cancer as well as from serious side effects of medical treatment benefited from a combination of music, art and verbal relaxation therapies which I used for him. His anxieties, anger, and disorientation came down dramatically after this intervention.