This section was adapted from the “United Way Metro Vancouver Family & Friends Caregivers Information and Resource Handbook 2016/17” with permission from the author Katherine Willett.
Caring can be very hard work and can even engender ‘dark’ feelings and thoughts that are ‘not very nice’. “Searching for Normal Feelings” by Doug Manning reminds us such feelings and thoughts are normal and fine so long as we don’t act on them. We care for our care receiver, and as humans we also get tired, cranky, angry, etc. with those we care for. The $2 monograph is available through Amazon.com
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). If you are an employee, check to see if your company benefits include access to confidential, away from the office, counselling through an EAP at work.
Low-Cost Counselling. Some social service organizations offer low-cost counselling, often based on a sliding fee scale. Expect wait lists. Contact your local Information & Referral (I&R) service to see what exists in your area. The BC chapter of the MS Society has a list “Free and Lower Cost Counselling Guide – Lower Mainland Chapter”.
Professional Counselling. If emotional distress is overwhelming you, an experienced, trained professional (counsellor, psychologist or therapist) can offer the caring, expert assistance that we often need during stressful times. “Good indicators of when you should seek counseling are when you’re having difficulties at work, your ability to concentrate is diminished or when your level of pain becomes uncomfortable,” says Dr. Gail Robinson, past president of the American Counseling Association. “However, you don’t want to wait until the pain becomes unbearable or you’re at the end of your rope.” “If someone is questioning if they should go into counseling that is probably the best indicator that they should,” says Dr. William King, a mental health counselor in private practice. “You should trust your instincts.” Through counseling you examine the behaviors, thoughts and feelings that are causing difficulties in your life. You learn effective ways to deal with your problems by building upon personal strengths. A professional counselor will encourage your personal growth and development in ways that foster your interest and welfare.
Adapted from www.counseling.org
To find a professional counsellor, you can ask your doctor for a referral, ask friends if they can recommend anyone, or go to the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors 1-800-909-6303 or visit www.bc-counsellors.org and enter ‘find a counsellor’ in the search box. Counselling BC 604-729-6059 also lists counsellors and psychologists in BC at www.counsellingbc.com
Senior Peer Counselling (SPC). Caregivers who are age 50 plus and feeling stressed might want to consider the free outreach Senior Peer Counsellor service (SPC) available in some communities. The service is also available to care receivers over the age of 50. Some seniors’ organizations offer free, confidential, one to one counselling services to those experiencing anxiety, frustration or difficulty because of life altering changes in their later years, including the caregiver role itself. A peer counsellor is a trained senior volunteer who can provide some support and guidance through difficult times. These volunteers are selected for their personal qualities of warmth and compassion as well as their life experiences. They have received training in communications, listening and counselling skills in a course accredited by the Senior Peer Counselling of BC association. A senior peer counsellor will be nonjudgmental, assist you to find your own solutions to problems, help direct you to community services, as needed, and will respect confidentiality. SPCs are also available to provide services to the senior you are caring for who might be struggling with the challenging changes of aging. Note that Senior Peer Counsellors can come to you. The service is available in multiple languages at some centres. These are the SPC programs in VCH areas: