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949-454-0996

©2019 BY DR. CLARE ALBRIGHT, PSY.D., CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST - CA  LICENSE PSY11660

care givers

Counseling for 

Counseling  and Self Care for Caregivers

 

What is a Caregiver?

A caregiver is someone who provides help to someone with a chronic illness or a condition that leaves them incapable of handling daily activities necessary to their health and general well-being. This means that a caregiver may aid in:

  • Cooking, buying groceries, maintaining the cleanliness of the house, doing laundry

  • Aiding in dressing and bathing

  • Medication Preparation and administration

  • Aids in the transfer of position and medical upkeep (in and out of bed, physical therapy, injections, feeding tubes)

  • Making appointments with doctors and other services

  • Communicates with doctors and other care managers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of us are caregivers to sick, older, or disabled family members and friends. This is a full-time job and can be very difficult. Not only are you responsible for the wellbeing of the person you care for, but you are also responsible for your own well-being and health.

 

This can be an extremely rewarding position, but it can also be demanding and heavy, causing exhaustion and stress. Many people try to balance their role as a caregiver on top of their own roles in their family. Sometimes we think we are invincible to the world and we can do it all, but that is not the case. It is important to understand that you are human and need to care for yourself too!

 

Being a caregiver can make you feel like you need to be able to handle this role on top of all the other responsibilities in your life and this can cause you to feel guilty and depressed as you use up your stamina. Caregiving can be a temporary job or a full-time job depending on the situation. 

 

What Caregivers May Feel

Caregiver issues can affect professional caregivers as well as personal caregivers. Many caregivers have reported that they have difficulty managing stress and balancing work and family responsibilities. Some of the most common issues that caregivers face are:

  • Depression- this can include feelings of isolation and loneliness. As caregivers, it can be difficult to practice self-care and self-love which can contribute to feelings of depression.

  • Guilt: This is a very common feeling amongst caregivers, and it is a natural feeling. For example, as a caregiver, you might feel guilty for not being able to provide a higher standard of care or not being able to focus on other duties in life.

  • Physical Strain/exhaustion/illness: Being a caregiver can make it difficult for you to find time for yourself. You might find yourself without the proper time to eat properly, exercise or get a good night’s sleep.

  • Grief/Sadness: As a caregiver, it is natural to become attached to the person you are caring for, especially if it is a family member. Watching a family member or a friend's health decline can be a very difficult thing to watch and cope with.

  • Anxiety/Fear: As a caregiver, you get to see different possibilities of life. For example, caring with someone with dementia can cause a sense of anxiety for your own health and morality.

  • Anger: Being a caregiver is not always rewarding, putting your feelings and life on hold can be a very difficult decision and it can be extremely difficult if the person you care for has an inability to recognize what you do.

 

Therapy for Caregivers

Therapy can be a great asset for caregivers who have started to become isolated, anxious, overwhelmed, or depressed. Therapy is a way to develop coping techniques as well as a strong support system. The caregiver field is a difficult one and many people feel that they “burn out” or start to feel physical and mental distress from the responsibilities that they begin to accumulate.

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy is a fantastic way to find emotional and physical support for yourself! This is a type of psychotherapy that enhances how we respond to difficult situations and emotions. It will allow you to cope with strong emotions and it can help you change dysfunctional thoughts. This type of therapy promotes recreational time for caregivers. It puts a heavy focus on self-care and changing roles between the person giving care and the person receiving care. It gives the caregiver a way to cope with the emotional burdens that come with the job. CBT can help a caregiver create a self-care routine to help you avoid emotional overwhelm.

  • Family Based Therapy: Family caregivers tend to face the emotional and economic burdens, and this can be very challenging from a psychological standpoint. Family-based therapy is a way to increase support for caregivers. The goal of family-based therapy is to enhance the caregiver's quality of life and their ability to provide care for another person. This type of therapy will identify specific factors that impact the relationship between the caregiver and the person receiving care. It helps remove feelings of "guilt" or "burdens" and it creates a heavy social awareness. One of the most critical sources of support for caregivers is their family. 

  • Professional Counseling:Counseling is a collaborative effort that takes place between you and your counselor. A counselor can help you identify potential solutions to problems that you may find difficult as a caregiver. The goal of counseling is to improve communication and self-esteem. It is an opportunity for you to receive support as you support someone else who cannot support themselves. This type of counseling can help with issues such as anger, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and relationship challenges. Counseling isn't something with a time limit, this is a type of therapy that can continue until you feel that you have the tools needed to succeed.

  • Solution-Focused Brief Therapy: This is a type of therapy where you are able to analyze your problems and focus on finding solutions in the present time. This is a good option for short term caregivers because it is an approach that acknowledges that you know what you need to do to improve your life and with guidance, this can be achieved. It is a great way to identify and create goals. You can focus on a specific problem and develop a strategy that is based on this problem. This type of therapy focuses on what you can do rather than what you cannot do. For example, as a caregiver, you may feel guilty and believe that you are not giving enough. This can be a completely irrational thought and Solution-Focused Brief Therapy can help you identify these feelings and create a positive change. This is a temporary form of therapy, but it can be used in addition to other therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Talk Therapy.

 

Being a caregiver is overwhelming and without an outlet or support system, it often results in mental illness and feelings of grief and isolation. In order to be a good caregiver, you need to take care of yourself. Being able to show empathy and compassion to another person is difficult if you are feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.

 

Seeking therapy is a great way to create a support system and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Caring for others is important but caring for yourself needs to be a priority.

Call Dr. Clare Albright, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist CA License PSY11660 at (949) 454-0996 or go to http://DrCAlbright.com