What does chronic illness have to do with therapy?

My health has taken a turn I wasn’t expecting. After several months of mysterious and life-disrupting symptoms, I learned that I have a chronic illness. I’m seeing several doctors, and I’m following their advice, but still I know I’m unhappy. How can therapy help when my problem is a physical illness?

As a fellow member of the chronic illness population, I know that managing chronic illness and disabilities is a complex process that can put even the most organized person under an immense amount of stress. When that happens, it can be extremely helpful to have support in taking care of yourself. Individual therapy can help you work through difficult emotions that come with learning about an illness, build confidence when advocating for yourself, and re-prioritize your life for maximum wellness.

Those of us living with chronic illnesses go through a wide range of emotions. You may feel fear for what may happen, confusion in the midst of inconsistent health information, grief for the loss of your health, and frustration with your symptoms. In fact, depression and anxiety are notorious for tagging along with most chronic illnesses. Therapy can be a safe space to learn to cope with these emotions and express them freely.

Meeting with many doctors to have your health needs addressed can be an intimidating process. It is common to feel overwhelmed, unheard, and powerless in navigating these appointments. Therapy can help many people develop self-advocacy skills, build confidence, and organize self-care.

Chronic illnesses can change just about every part of your life! They can create a need for new routines, new visions for the future, and new roles and responsibilities in your marriage, family, friendships, and work-life. Therapy can assist you in learning to match your work/life balance to your new needs, setting goals to reach your dreams, redefining success, setting boundaries with others, and managing the natural conflict from adapting your relationships.

Changes in your health can be hard to navigate, and there is no need for you to do it alone. You deserve to have support when you want it, and I would be honored to be there with you in your journey towards inner and outer wellness! Call or email me today.

This post was written by Anna White, an experienced therapist for individuals, children, adolescents, and families at Emily Cook Therapy in Bethesda, MD.