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How You May Benefit From Caregivers Therapy And When To Seek It

There are times in our lives when we find ourselves in situations we can not get out of without someone’s help. We want to buy a house —we find a reliable realtor. Our car needs maintenance — we take it to the dealership. We need help with the kids — we hire a babysitter. We need emotional support — we go out with friends. But sometimes, we may need a bit more than a shoulder to cry on. We need the help of a professional.

Therapy for caregivers is professional support that can help you deal with the unique challenges and emotional needs of someone who provides care and support to others.

This article attempts to explain what therapy can help you with as a caregiver, what is the best type of therapy for you, and when you should be seeking it.

The Challenges of Caring for Aging Parents

Perhaps you have become a caregiver over time because your aging loved one needed more and more of your assistance. Or you had to step in all of a sudden after an incident that left them unable to care fully for themselves.

a caregiver assisting a senior climbing down a stairway

Regardless of the manner, if you are the primary caregiver for your senior family member, you most probably have experienced a range of caregiver stress factors. These may include physical and emotional exhaustion, feelings of guilt, frustration, and the burden of responsibility.

In Amy’s Eden blog section, we have already addressed some of these challenges. We have also given you some ideas on how to take care of your own health, how to deal with stress, and what to do if you are experiencing burnout.

However, these may not be effective enough at times. In such instances, therapy can help you navigate these challenges and enhance your well-being.

Some common signs you may want to watch for include the following:

  • You have anger issues or get furious faster than normal. Often, even minor disturbances make you ‘lose it.’ And even though we can not and should not control our emotions 100% of the time, dealing with anger healthily is important for our relationships and quality of life.

  • You are experiencing stress or that feeling in your chest that everything depends on you. You can’t go to sleep at night because of this nagging voice that there must be something you have forgotten. You wake up in the morning feeling tired and dreading the new day.

  • You feel intense or ever-present fear. It is so overbearing that it is almost paralyzing. You are scared that you will do something wrong, or you will harm your loved one, or that you aren’t ready for this because you don’t know what you are doing. Caregiving is a task that involves a lot of responsibilities. Therefore you need to be prepared, to be familiar with the condition of your loved one, and have someone you can count on in times of crisis.

  • You feel grief or sadness. Often when you expect your loved one’s passing, you can feel grief before it actually happens. It is not easy to watch the person you are caring for decline or suffer. This can make you feel helpless and sad that your relationship with your beloved senior is not the same.

caregiver therapy can help process feelings of grief and sadness

  • You are depressed or extremely miserable. Nothing interests you, you don’t find joy in any activities or things you used to like before. Caregivers are at risk for developing depression and anxiety, so it is crucial to be able to recognize their symptoms and seek help before too long.

  • You feel guilty that you want some time for yourself or you want to be elsewhere. You may feel guilty because you think you are not compassionate, respectful, or supportive enough. You may even feel guilty that you sometimes wish this would end soon. Guilt can take many forms, and in caregiving, it is an emotion that often occurs.

Caregiving therapy can help you deal with all these issues while preventing them from affecting your physical health. The importance of being at the top of your game is illustrated by a study that revealed that the more caregivers are stressed, the more of their care recipients end up in the ER.

The Tangible Benefits of Therapy for Caregivers

a man in need of caregiver counseling

Talking with a professional can profoundly affect your well-being and, thus, affect your loved one well-being too. Receiving emotional support from a counselor can help you achieve mental stability and perform your tasks with more contentment, joy, and happiness.

Therapists are skilled in listening without judging. Everything said at a therapy session is confidential and stays between you and the therapist. They can give you independent advice, and you can discuss topics you aren’t comfortable bringing up with family members or friends.

Therapy sessions can help caregivers develop good coping strategies, navigate medical terms and treatment options, and address daily challenges associated with caring for loved ones with chronic illnesses or dementia.

Counseling can provide assistance in various ways. Here are some major ones:

Emotional support

This is achieved by providing a safe space to express your feelings and emotions. These non-judgmental therapists offer an empathetic ear, validation, and guidance. These are proven to reduce stress levels and feelings of isolation, hence, providing emotional relief.

Stress reduction

At therapy, you can learn methods to help you cope and manage your stress. Relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, practicing mindfulness, and other stress reduction techniques will gear you to manage stressful situations better and increase your resilience to stress altogether.

Improved self-care

It is easy to start neglecting your own needs when you prioritize someone else’s. Therapy can help you by keeping you accountable for taking care of yourself and encouraging you to establish healthier boundaries. Counselors will help you recognize the importance of engaging in physical exercises and activities that promote your mental well-being. This can lead to improved self-esteem, reduced guilt, and increased overall life satisfaction.

Enhanced coping skills

Therapists can help you develop problem-solving strategies, enhance your communication skills, and equip you with techniques to manage conflicts with ease. Communicating better and resolving conflict situations can make your life simpler, less dramatic, and more tranquil.

Validation and normalization

a woman in a therapist’s office receiving caregiver counselling

Caregiving can be an isolating experience, and you may feel that other members of your family or friends don’t fully understand your struggles. At therapy, you can find validation for your experiences and emotions. Knowing that you are not alone in your journey can reduce any feelings of guilt, frustration, and self-doubt.

Improved caregiving outcomes

Therapy drives you to prioritize your own well-being, and consequently, you become better equipped to provide quality care to your loved ones. By managing your own stress, emotions, and needs, you become more patient, empathetic, and effective in your caregiving role.

Caregiver therapy aims to improve the overall health condition of caregivers. By addressing your emotional and mental health needs, therapy helps you build resilience, improve your ability to cope with challenges, and maintain a positive outlook. This, in turn, can contribute to better physical health, increased energy levels, and an improved sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Types of Caregiver Therapy and Therapists

There are a few types of therapy that you can choose from.

a support group having a caregiver therapy session

The most commonly used therapy today is a support group consisting of other caregivers. An experienced caregiver guides these group therapy sessions. Support groups offer the opportunity to listen to other caregivers’ stories and struggles, share your own problems with them, and learn from their experiences.

Caregiver group therapy sessions are typically run by a certified professional who provides guidance and is trained to work with groups of people. They can guide the caregiver group through various activities and exercises, building trust among the members of the group and helping them open up about their feelings.

Individual therapy is conducted by a psychologist, counselor, or certified therapist. This professional works together with you on issues specific to your case and helps you boost your strong sides in caregiving.

a family therapy for caregivers

The whole family can take part in sessions of family therapy. These are run by a therapist who can help you discover and resolve issues within the family. The sessions are focused on problems that can hamper your caregiving abilities.

A recent study has demonstrated the efficacy of a new therapeutic method that uses guided mentalizing imagery and mindfulness exercises to boost empathic imagination in caregivers. Mentalizing imagery therapy helps caregivers understand better how the mind of their loved ones work and their own reactions to that.

Pastoral counseling
is another type of therapy that combines psychological, theological, and spiritual concepts. It applies practices such as prayers, scripture study, and partaking in congregations.

In summary

senior caregiver can provide you with some time for caregiver therapy

Overall, caregiver therapy can profoundly impact your life as a caregiver, enabling you to navigate your responsibilities more effectively while maintaining your own physical and mental well-being and the rest of the personal relationships in your life.

If you feel overwhelmed by your caregiver role, you probably need a helping hand. Taking care of yourself means you will be able to assist your loved one better. Amy’s Eden can help you in a number of ways. We offer caregiving in-home services, sitting services, and assisted home services. To learn more and receive a quote, we invite you to contact us or call us at (775) 884-3336.

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