When A Client Needs Psychotherapy But is Too Ill To Leave the Home Rosalee Benelli, M.A., MFT

June 12, 2013 8:23 PM | Admin EBCAMFT
Can you imagine what it might be like to be so ill, especially with a chronic condition, and your relationships suffer?  What do you do if you can’t leave the home for the therapy you need?

I facilitated support groups for people with life-challenging, chronic illnesses both on the Peninsula and in the East Bay for 12 years.  In these groups, I helped members find their own best answers on how to deal with their condition(s) and relationship issues, how best to communicate with their doctors and other health practitioners, work on setting good boundaries for self-care, saying "no" without guilt, and develop a better relationship with themselves.

I know firsthand the challenges these people face.  Although I no longer run these groups, I now am putting in the time to assist individuals, couples and families in dealing with the various issues that arise when one or more family members suffer from chronic illness.  I do this by telephone and can, possibly, include Skype.  

Many divorces occur when a mate becomes chronically ill, the children don’t understand and struggle to deal with a health-challenged parent, older parents worry about what will happen to their adult offspring when they, the parent, passes away.  Being a parent with a chronic illness poses multiple challenges and resulting emotions from the inability to be who you used to be and the parent you want to be and know you could be if not for poor health.   Other family members feel burdened and resentful when caring for a chronically ill person.  The ill person can feel isolated, abandoned, fearful and hopeless.  All may suffer from feelings of denial, anger, resentment, guilt, fear and more.  Now, maybe more than any other time in life, a chronically ill person needs help with managing their own life better and restoring and healing ailing relationships.

Too, the healthy people who deal with the chronically ill also need a place to vent, share their side of the story without the shame and judgment involved.   They need validation for their enduring hardships as well.

Frustrations with the medical community are also a factor for many a chronically ill person.   Assessing even if an ill person can even get to a doctor’s appointment can be a stressor for all involved.  Impatience on both sides is not uncommon when dealing with caregivers, drivers, doctors, nurses and so on.

For those who can work, there can be misunderstandings with co-workers and bosses who expect them to meet their job requirements when they can't, need to go in late or leave early, and take more days off than is considered acceptable.  In addition there is the stress of lost wages from not being able to work.

Some people have to go through the process of getting on a disability plan either private or Social Security or both and this process can be cumbersome and confusing.  One can go through numerous feelings of disbelief about their health and where they are in life, disbelief from those in their support network or no support at all.  With all major difficult changes in life most deal with the grief process of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Additionally, many have been put on psychotropic medications to, hopefully, cope better with their lives but have discovered later on that the medications themselves are causing other health issues.  For those individuals who want to or are tapering off psychiatric medications under their physicians supervision, I can offer support and guidance on learning new coping skills to deal with the feelings that surface or resurface so that one doesn't become overwhelmed by them and want to give up.  The process can be lengthy and considerably uncomfortable at times but with the right skills and understanding about the process, one can achieve the goal of safely coming off their medications and build more self-confidence and internal control over their own lives so they don't need to resort to chemical treatment for their issues.   Just to be clear, I do not advise a client to come off medications or on anything relating to what medications are available and what they are for as that is not within my scope of practice.

It is during these difficult times when we could immensely benefit from an experienced person to help guide and lead the way to a more fulfilling and rewarding life.  I am here for them.

Rosalee Benelli is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in the state of California.  She was born in Sebastopol, California in 1948.  She did her undergraduate work at San Francisco State University and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Health Science in 1983.  While working on her B.A. degree, she was married, raising two sons and working at College of San Mateo as Secretary to the English Division Chairman.  In 1989, she became very ill with an incurable physical illness and is still health-challenged today.  During her early years with her health challenges, she worked at Stanford University as Secretary to the Chairmen of Petroleum Engineering.  While working at Stanford University, she worked on her Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology which she received in 1994, then acquired her MFT license in 2003.

She chose this work as she knows first-hand the value of psychotherapy in dealing with relationship issues in regard to chronic illness and dealing with illness itself as well life’s challenges in general.  Following a divorce in 1987 she continued to co-raise her sons with her former husband and has an amicable relationship with him now although there were difficult years in-between.  For 12 years she facilitated support groups for people with life-challenging, chronic illness both in San Mateo and then in Hayward where she lives and works now.  Her scope is still in relational work with the specialty of managing the additional stress  of chronic illness and offering help to those who are home-bound.

510 909 7950
Hayward, CA

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