Counseling Clients through the Crisis of Diagnosis
The diagnosis of life threatening illness often comes as a blow to a person because it is always regarded as a death sentence. The diagnosis period is usually defined as a turning point, when an individual’s orientation towards life shifts. This encounter with possibility of death is often overwhelming, causing a person to experience numbness and shock. Life threatening illness diagnosis has been identified as the second major cause of stress because the knowledge of dying itself is scary. However, some people may utilize the crisis as a growth opportunity such as enhanced spirituality, reordered priorities, experience a sense of personal strength, and renewed relationships.
Diagnosis of life threatening illness is characterized by uncertain nature, and it is beyond one’s control. The diagnosis builds a deep crisis coupled with various interpersonal and personal issues, strong emotional reactions, and anxiety. Therefore, an individual must learn ways to cope with the diagnosis effective or risk experiencing extreme anxiety and personal disorganization. The consequences of life threatening illness that impact of every aspect of an individual’s life, including school, work, financial decisions, friends and family.
Various tasks have been suggested to help an individual cope with diagnosis. These tasks include understanding the illness, evaluating and optimizing lifestyle and health, optimizing an individual’s limiting weaknesses ad coping strengths, establishing strategies to handle concerns facilitated by disease, identifying the impact of disease on an individual’s sense of self and relationship with other people, examining fears and feelings, and integrating the current reality of diagnosis into an individual’s sense of past and future.
The end of diagnostic or acute phase is extremely nature self-limiting. In rare incidents, in the event when a person precipitate the diagnosis may lead to death or rapid decline into the terminal stage of disease, which forces survivors to simultaneously face diagnosis and death. In other cases, the disease may advance so dramatically, or the disability from stroke can be found to be so severe and irreversible, causing the individual and family to grieve the extreme losses that have happened and prepare the individual for possible death. In situations where recovery is determined as complete in cases such as stroke or heart attack, people may experience different risks of recurrence. Despite the recovery, a person may encounter with after-effects of life threatening illness such as discrimination in employment, psychological impairment, fears of relapse, and physical scars. Also, full recovery may leave financial, psychological, emotional, social, physical scars.