Counseling: Why It's Helpful For Parents of Kids With CHD

Counseling: Why Its Helpful For Parents of Kids With CHD


Taking care of yourself if you have a chronically ill child can seem like a difficult task for many parents. Luckily, you don't need to do this tricky balancing act alone: social workers, counselors, and therapists can often be a great source of support.


This article explores some of the issues you may turn to a counselor for, how counseling can help, and a few ways to find one.


Common issues


Having a child with CHD is incredibly stressful for parents. You face overwhelming emotions regularly, as well as additional physical, financial, amongst other challenges. Parents, especially mothers, are at risk of psychological distress, anxiety, depression, somatization, hopelessness, and post-traumatic stress symptoms.


As a parent, taking care of your child with a chronic health condition can also include::


  • Adjusting to unexpected stressors
  • Educating yourself about your child's condition 
  • Building a solid relationship with your child's health care team that allows you to feel comfortable asking questions 
  • Informing others (school, family, friends) about your child's situation 
  • Receiving help while your child is in the hospital so that your other children are cared for 
  • Finding new ways to cope and manage stress


How counseling can help


Sometimes, the stress of your child's condition can feel so overwhelming that coping mechanisms that have worked in the past are no longer working. If this is the case, you may benefit from working with a counselor or therapist.


Counselors and therapists are professionally trained to help kids and families who are dealing with difficult situations. Going to counseling can help you, your partner, or the entire family when your child has a heart condition. 


Speaking to a counselor can help you and your family process your situation by speaking with a neutral third party. Counseling can also help you problem-solve, make decisions, and cope with stress. These mental health professionals offer a variety of supportive services, which can include:


  • Individual counseling
  • Couples counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Patient and family education in hospitals
  • Information regarding community resources
  • Referrals to other professional services


Additional support: social workers


Children's hospitals and clinics typically have a social worker to assist families dealing with a chronic health condition in their lives. As a member of your child's health care team,  social workers understand the impact of heart condition or disease on your child and family. They are also aware of the diverse backgrounds and unique needs of families who come to the hospital for cardiac care.


Regardless of your child's condition, don't hesitate to ask for social work services. They'll help you ease your anxieties and make you better able to be supportive and positive for your child and the rest of the family.


How do you find a counselor?


After deciding that counseling may be a good fit, its time to start your search. Consider the following upon starting your search: 


Ask friends and family members for recommendations. If any friends or family members have gone to therapy, consider reaching out to them for a recommendation.  Even if you dont plan on working with the same therapist, their mental healthcare provider may be able to give you a referral to an online therapist.


Ask another trusted professional for a referral. Although you don't need a referral to start, asking another trusted professional, such as your primary care doctor, can help you jumpstart your search.


Use an online counseling directory. Online directors like the American Psychological Association and Psychology Today allow you to search for new therapists by specialty, credentials, and location. 


Keywords: Counseling, parents, CHD 


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