“Justine” – aged 43 years
Justine* had just been “through the wringer”! In the last year, she had lost her mother to cancer, her father from a heart attack and her oldest daughter had become “unmanageable.” She felt stressed most of the time and was having trouble dealing with work and maintaining a loving relationship with her husband. She is a matter-of-fact person who likes “to get on with things” but is feeling anxious and fatigued, unable to do the things that need to be done. Recently, she has had real difficulty getting out of bed in the morning and facing her responsibilities.
At her last appointment with her GP she discussed the situation with him and he suggested that an appointment with a Psychologist might be helpful. He arranged the referral and wrote up a Mental Health Plan so that Justine would be eligible for Medicare when seeing the Psychologist, in this case Lionel Davis.
Lionel saw Justine within a week and at this first session she described what was going on in her life that brought her to a therapist. Justine was upset at times during the session as she recalled the details of the distress she experienced over the last few years. It was not only the death of her mother that was so painful, it was also “watching Mum suffer more and more as the cancer spread.”
This was the beginning of the therapy process as Justine got fully in touch with her grief and started to see the connection between her own emotions and her on-going efforts to cope with life.
As Justine’s Psychologist, I was there to support her through the healing process – being a confidant, devising a treatment plan that is realistic and achievable and jointly developing strategies that would allow Justine to feel in charge of her life again. No doubt, like with all patients no matter what the situation, Justine has had her ups and downs in therapy, sometimes feeling elated with her own realisations and sometimes feeling challenged. This was all necessary in her recovery and as it turned out, she made great progress in the three months I saw her. I am looking forward to catching up with her again to hear how things are working out.
*This case study is constructed to illustrate a typical counselling process for patients – Justine is not the real patient’s name.