Getting the Most out of Counseling after a Burn Injury
by Megan Bronson MSN, RN, CS
Consider interviewing therapists before you commit to an ongoing process with a therapist. Be an active participant in your therapy. Ask questions, set goals, and develop a plan of action that includes evaluating progress toward your personal, relationship, life and recovery goals.
Therapy for trauma related symptoms and grief often requires going through some uncomfortable emotions. It may require a few sessions before you begin to feel some relief from symptoms. Be patient with yourself and focus on small gains – they all add up over time.
Trauma affects an entire family and your family members may want to seek help as well. It is often helpful to do some work as a couple with your significant other or spouse and in time with the entire family present. It is beneficial for children to be part of family sessions as well.
If your therapist gives you homework assignments between sessions, be sure to follow up on these--their purpose is to help reinforce what you are learning in therapy and to practice new communication, coping, and life skills.
Just as with physical recovery, recovery from the emotional trauma of a burn injury does not happen without effort. Challenge yourself to take risks and to learn and try out new skills in relationships and life.
Seek assistance from your burn center or physician in finding a therapist who has experience in treating trauma related symptoms and who is comfortable with this. It is helpful if the therapist has been trained in trauma specific techniques such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy http://www.nacbt.org or www.abct.org ) or EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing http://www.emdria.org ). Therapists in your area who are certified in these techniques can be found on the websites listed.
Choose a therapist who you feel comfortable with and who you feel you can trust and be honest with. If you are not making reasonable progress or if the therapist just isn’t a good fit for you, consider changing therapists.