How Psychologists Can Help The Family Members Of Those With Heart Issues

Being diagnosed with a disorder or any chronic illness might be devastating for that particular individual. However, people often forget that they are not only the ones who are deeply affected. Usually, the members of the family also take an emotional toll due to these kinds of news. With that in mind, psychologists offer family therapy services to address this problem. 

The crisis begins when we learn that a loved one has been diagnosed with an illness that is terminal or life-threatening. But this only marks the beginning of a journey — one that may last months or years, and which has the potential to affect just about every aspect of our lives and our relationships. — Joseph Nowinski Ph.D.


Why Is Family Therapy Conducted?

Family therapies are most famous for helping improve troubled relationships within the family – may it be in the marital sense, financial problems, or substance abuse. What people don’t know is that family therapies can also be an avenue to provide emotional instability within the family upon knowing that one of them has heart issues. Most of the families use this to do the following: 

  • The discrimination and stigma surrounding heart diseases force families to keep their secrets on their own. Going therapy can help them feel that other people support them. And once they are ready to tell other people, their therapy sessions can be their outlet and guidance about it. 
  • Family therapies are also there to repair the relationship within the family whenever conflicts arise. These problems come from breaking cultural and religious beliefs in the needed medications. 
  • Some parents also feel uncomfortable talking to their children about their cardiovascular diseases and risk. The role of the psychologist in these situations is to direct the flow of discussion without having to talk too much. They are also there to manage conflict if ever it happens. 
  • Admit it or not, people who live with a person with heart disease is living under immense stress. These extreme emotions sometimes translate to other mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. These family therapy sessions can help avoid this outcome. 
  • Some families also find it hard to break this kind of news to other family members. This initiative can help them prepare all of themselves so they can adequately digest this sensitive news. 

Always important and considered crucial in family therapy training, race has become increasingly important to social work students who feel ill-prepared to work across race/culture/ethnicity. — Geoffrey Greif Ph.D.


What Kinds Of Interventions Are Used?

Clients have the freedom to choose whether they will go to the sessions on their own, with their families, or together with a partner. From here, the psychologists will assess the current status of the lives of these people. He or she will also determine what kinds of needs should be addressed in their case. 

If these people are trapped in their negative emotions and they don’t know how to move forward, psychologists help them by creating an open and non-judgemental environment where they can freely share. They also think of ways which will help them feel more comfortable in opening up. It can be in the form of a role-playing exercise, art therapy, or confrontational session – whatever they deem fit depending on the client’s situation. 

…you can talk about problems with friends and family, ask for help when you need it to solve everyday problems, make an effort to relax and unwind, and develop a realistic exercise routine. — Angela Grippo Ph.D.

Several sessions also cover planning. It is because some families are afraid to plan significant events together. Examples of this include hospitalization, telling other family members about the heart disease, talking to their employers, or what kinds of treatment approach to take. The psychologist uses his or her expertise to tackle this and come up with specific action steps which will solve their concerns. 

How To Find The Best Psychologist?


Before scheduling a session, make sure that the psychologist will be a good fit for your family. Here are some questions you can ask:

  • What is your educational background?
  • Were you given a state license?
  • Do you have specialized training in family therapy?
  • How long have you been in this profession?
  • How much are the sessions? Does it have to paid fully before my first session? 
  • How long is each session? What is your rule on canceling meetings?
  • How many days or weeks should I schedule my session?
  • How would I know how many sessions my family and I should take? Will I be the one who will determine it or you?
  • Are you available outside office hours in case of emergency?
  • Does my health insurance plan cover the services?
  • Am I allowed to stop receiving your service anytime I want just in case I feel that you’re not the perfect psychologist for me?

Take note that these family therapies does not instantly solve your family conflicts. It is a long process. However, this is just one of the stepping stones for you to know which road to take about addressing these unpleasant situations. Each family member should participate and do their part to make everything work. Family therapies are also a way for the whole family to understand each other better and achieve a sense of togetherness in whatever crisis you face. 

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