If you know anyone who has suffered a stroke, you will also know that the consequences can be devastating. The list is long but includes muscle weakness, stiffness and contracture, pain, fatigue and communication problems.
What about the psychological impact of stroke? Patients often experience feelings of denial, anger, guilt and grief – again, not a full list
It’s also important to bear in mind that stroke does not only affect the patient. The impact on the families can be far-reaching and life changing, too. So, we should perhaps not be surprised that depression and anxiety are common among stroke patients and their carers.
"I wonder if counsellors and psychotherapists might also discount stroke patients"
Paul Grantham writes how counselling and psychotherapy can support patients and their families to adapt to the psychological impact of stroke. Paul explains with clarity and compassion how ‘behavioural activation’ helped a stroke patient to recover his sense of agency and engagement with the world. Counselling also allowed the patient’s wife to explore her relationship with her husband, as well as challenge her beliefs about stroke and recovery.
The psychological struggles of stroke patients and their families might not always get the attention they deserve from healthcare staff, whose job is often to prioritise physical rehabilitation and hospital discharge.
I wonder if counsellors and psychotherapists might also discount stroke patients and their families. There might be practical reasons, such as accessibility, but therapists might also make their own assumptions about stroke response and recuperation.
I have never worked with a stroke patient, which is perhaps telling. But if I have overlooked the potential psychological impact of stroke in the past, I certainly won’t in the future.
The experience of stroke patients would seem to confirm that physical health can impact psychological health. In other words, body and mind are connected.
The connection between body and mind interests Natasha-Rae Adams, who is an integrative therapist and keen swimmer. Natasha-Rae tells us about the psychological benefits of swimming, from alleviating depression and anxiety to connecting with others and boosting self-confidence. Are you ready to take the plunge?
Penelope Campling is a psychiatrist and psychotherapist who worked in the NHS for many years. Some of you might be familiar with her recent book, Don’t Turn Away: stories of troubled minds in fractured times, which considers how we treat people in distress – and how our struggling healthcare system doesn’t always get it right.
In her article, Penelope draws on her experience of working with clinicians in intensive care units during the pandemic to write with intelligence and kindness about how we can best offer psychological support to healthcare workers.
Kindness was sadly lacking from Caroline Smith’s experience as a patient on a psychiatric ward. Caroline writes about her harrowing and terrifying ordeal – and challenges us to do better.
We all eat, so we all have a relationship with food. But how often do we think about it or talk about it with our clients? Gerrie Hughes encourages us to explore our own experience of eating. We might then be able to offer our clients the space to unpack their own relationship with food.
And not just food. As Gerrie explains, food can also be a way to access a client’s past, granting insight into their interactions with others and the world.