What is counselling for amputees?
Counselling for amputees is a one to one, face to face talking therapy. The London Prosthetic Centre offers a counselling service to help those impacted by an amputation talk about their problems and feelings and find ways to better cope living with a permanent physical disability. The service is available for amputees themselves and their family who may also be struggling.
The counselling for amputees clinic works alongside the London Prosthetic Centre and forms an important part of the rehabilitation process and journey back to physical and emotional health.
The counselling service is run by Sue Lacey who is an independent counsellor and psychotherapist, and is a registered member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (MBACP). This means the counselling service maintains the highest level of professional standards and ethics within the counselling profession.
Through her work, Sue integrates a range of approaches that she has found helpful for people. These include talking therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), solution focused therapy, mindfulness and creative therapy.
How does counselling for amputees work?
The counselling service focuses on the quality of the therapy relationship. The first and most important step in coping with painful feelings and disturbing thoughts is to talk about how you feel. It is often a great relief to say out loud what is making you unhappy, which can be done safely in counselling since all sessions are strictly confidential.
The counselling service will normalise how you feel. Many feel they are alone and nothing seems to make any sense. Clients will be offered encouragement to explore how they feel and identify what choices are available to gain more control over their lives and think more positively about the future.
To achieve this, the following counselling approaches have been found to help people:
• Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – focusing on how your negative thoughts may be impacting how you feel and behave.
• Solution Focused - exploring your strengths to help you achieve the changes you want to make.
• Mindfulness – concentrating your attention on what is going on in the ‘here and now’, including paying attention to your breathing to release negative thoughts, feelings and tension.
• Creativity – sometimes words may be difficult and frightening and you may find it helpful to use pictures or draw how you feel.
Why would I need amputee counselling?
The loss of a functioning limb can mean emotional as well as physical issues. This could impact confidence and relationships with those who are close to you.
Many struggle to cope and experience negative thoughts and emotions after an amputation, especially an emergency amputation with little or no time to mentally prepare for the effects of surgery.
Common emotions and thoughts include depression, anxiety, denial and anger, as you struggle to accept the need to make changes and adapt to life. Many struggle with constant pain, loss of sensation and function.
There is also a change in how you may view your body image, and you may struggle being seen and treated differently. Every day can be different when you are living with a physical disability and emotions can be unpredictable and variable. This can mean your physical activity levels can change from one day to the next as well as your emotional reserves.
Many also feel loss and grief similar to experiencing the death of a loved one. You may feel overwhelmed and struggle to cope at any time of your life. However feelings of loss due to an amputation can also be triggered by a new loss or crisis in your life, since often your real feelings may have been hidden whilst you try to put on a brave face to the world.
Through attending counselling you can regain the courage and strength to cope better with the changes that your amputation may mean to how you now live your life. Counselling for amputees can therefore support you with the following issues:
• Accepting change
• Bereavement and loss
• Body image worries
• Conflict including perceived bullying; emotional and physical
• Daily living
• Despair for the future
• Family issues; relationship breakdown, separation, divorce and difficulty forming relationships
• False impressions of yourself
• Fear of rejection
• Feeling unwell including psychosomatic concerns, physical and emotional pain
• Financial worries
• Lack of meaning
• Loss of independence
• Living with uncertainty
• Loss of identity
• Low self-esteem
• Low confidence
• Mid-life struggles
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder
• Phantom limb pain
• Retirement worries including fears of dying
• Self harm
• Sexual concerns
• Unrealistic expectations
How long will counselling for amputees take?
This really depends on you. In most cases, it takes a number of sessions before counselling starts to make a difference. Sometimes you may feel more overwhelmed before you start to feel better.
This is part of the therapy process since counselling cannot offer you a magic wand to make you feel better. It takes time to explore how you feel so regular commitment to attending sessions each week is required to make the best use of the therapy. Clients can choose to work short-term for 6-12 sessions or longer-term for 12-50 sessions and even beyond. Each person is different. Counselling sessions last 50 minutes and are usually weekly.
How much does counselling for amputees cost, how do I book sessions and where do we meet?
The fee for each 50-minute session is £50 but there is no obligation to continue beyond the first meeting. Payment is made at the end of each session either by cash or cheque or can be paid in advance.
Sessions are held on-site at The London Prosthetic Centre.