Tuesday with Tim
Counseling - November 6, 2018
In last week’s Tuesday with Tim post we discussed advocating for your child. Two of the ways I shared that you can best advocate for your child were taking care of yourself and joining Facebook groups for children with brain injuries. This week, I want to expand on both of those and discuss the important role that counseling and support plays for parents, siblings and caregivers.
Following Luke’s accident, I didn’t immediately look for opportunities to join support groups. It took me some time to warm up to the idea of meeting with a group of parents who were walking journeys similar to ours but still unique to their child. When I finally did join one, the support groups provided me with a place where I could obtain advise or feedback from other parents about medications, therapy, doctor recommendations, vitamins and move. I also found that the speakers and parent discussion at support groups provided me with a network of information as well as a group of people who could relate to our journey. They were there to cheer with us during victories and encourage us during times of despair.
If you are hesitant to join a support group, I would encourage you to check out the Facebook groups I previously mentioned. Facebook groups are a great gateway to connect with other parents as well as learn about a variety of topics that relate to your child’s injury and their care. When you feel more comfortable, you can look for a support group in your area!
Another important aspect of caring for yourself is attending counseling. I personally started seeing a counselor about a year after Luke’s accident. Each person is different and it’s important to do what is best for you and your family. Part of what makes counseling so beneficial is that you have someone who you can talk to about your thoughts and feelings and they are there with the primary purpose of listening. Support groups are more of a conversational forum where you can ask and give advice and connect with others. Counseling is a one on one opportunity for you to share what you’re going through.
When it comes to self-care, there are a variety of ways you can invest in yourself. Counseling, support groups, massages, bible studies, getting restful sleep, working out, etc. Remember to take the airplane approach – when air masks drop on a plane, you are instructed to put your own mask on first and then assist your child. This is very much the same in caring for a child with a brain injury. I must first make sure I am taking care of myself emotionally, physically and spiritually before attempting to care for Luke and my family if I am seeking the best outcome for us all.
Lastly, I wanted to visit with you about counseling for siblings. It is so important that siblings attend counseling either individually or together with a counselor that specializes in trauma. It is essential that siblings have the opportunity to share their feelings and emotions while feeling heard. There can be incredible difficulty for a sibling to express frustration, sadness, anger or loss to their parents when they see the struggles and difficulties the parents are managing already. If your child refuses to see a counselor, try reaching out to your child’s school counselor. They might already have a relationship or someone vaguely familiar might be less intimidating than an outside counselor. A school counselor can also visit with your child’s teachers and get a pulse for their normal behavior. Similarly, don’t be afraid to talk to parents of your child’s friends. If they are around your child, they can keep an eye out for red flags or might notice behavior or mood changes that could require attention.
At the end of the day, it is always worth the time to invest in yourself and your family. Be consistent in your counseling and support groups and make no excuses.
If you are in the Austin or Lubbock area and looking for a support group, visit our support page for more information about the times and locations our groups meet!