Social Work

Counselling & Psychotherapy

Head trauma can change your life in numerous ways. Many people report feeling worthless, misunderstood, lonely, and most of all frustrated and angry after their injury. Although you are not alone; in fact, around 50 percent of people who have a brain injury experience fear, anxiety, depression, difficulties with controlling mood/emotions, behavioral issues, and changes in relationships with family and friends, financial strain, and difficulty adjusting to changes in work, school, or home life. Life after a brain injury can be overwhelming and constantly challenging for both the survivor and family members. Although this incident does not have to dictate the rest of your life.

Your doctor may have recommended counselling or psychotherapy. Counsellors and psychotherapists work to restore the cognitive, emotional, behavioral and social functions of the individual. However, post-injury, patients often go to many therapies, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc. Counselling is simply another form of therapy that helps people recover emotionally after their injury. Going to counselling does not mean that something is wrong with you; is a tool/strategy that you can learn and use for the rest of your life to help you feel better and more hopeful about the future.

While your counsellor/psychotherapist may use a holistic or eclectic therapeutic approach, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has been the most empirically validated form of psychological treatment for brain injuries because of its balance between structure, flexibility and a variety of therapeutic techniques, such as problem-solving skills training, exposure therapy, modeling and relaxation skills training, etc.

The CBT treatment model consists of understanding how thoughts, feelings and behaviors interact with each other in a reciprocal and bi-directional manner. For example, unpleasant emotionally charged thoughts may enter your subconscious, leaving behind feelings of frustration and cause you to act out in anger without a full understanding of where these feelings came from. These are automatic thoughts that occur without intention or conscious effort and impact the way we feel and behave. CBT acts to help us understand what is going on in our mind and decipher our personal thoughts and beliefs– or schemas– which we often develop in childhood. These thoughts shape the way we interpret our experiences in a way which can be both adaptive and maladaptive, and sometimes a schema that had assisted us at one point in our lives, is no longer adaptive, especially after an injury or illness occurred. Principal to the CBT model is the idea dysfunctional or distorted thinking is common to all psychological disturbances.

The main premise of CBT is that changes in the thinking process will subsequently produce changes in the other elements – such as mood and behavior. The overall goal of therapy is to improve mood and functioning by cognitive restructuring in order to learn new coping strategies to adapt after psychological distress caused by injury/illness and in turn be able to live a fulfilling life.