Counselling For The Injured And Their Partners Post SCI - Why Is This Resource Not Available? — Reeve Connect
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Counselling For The Injured And Their Partners Post SCI - Why Is This Resource Not Available?

WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Moderator Posts: 384 Moderator
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Hello everyone - Brooke Here <3 .

It's Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month and this week, we are focusing on Mental and Emotional health and wellbeing post SCI. Here are some thoughts I have on this subject:

As a wife of a man who sustained a C4 Spinal Cord Injury at age 25, I can honestly say mental health has been something that we have struggled with the most. We found that - especially in rehab - there are not enough counselling resources available for someone with an SCI, and definitely not someone who is their partner. Our experience early on was because of lack of funding, there were not any chances to receive counselling at the rehab facility. They reserved this service for people who were deemed "Suicidal" and did not even assess the romantic partner of the paralyzed individual. Once my partner was assessed as not being "at risk" - he was shooed away. I searched for counsellors who specialized in post trauma and processing injuries, and most of them were $150 or more per hour. It just wasn't in the cards for us at the time, but we both could have used some form of therapy.

 We waited a couple of years and realized that we both needed to invest in some help communicating, and releasing a LOT of emotions from his accident and what it did to our relationship. Those who have experienced paralysis KNOW that sometimes, the depression, heartache, flashbacks and general anxiety can come months or years after the accident actually happens. 

Before we were married (2 years after his injury), we did 10 sessions with a counsellor who helped us with communication, as well as EMDR (a therapy technique used for PTSD) but had no help paying for it from the government or insurance. Insurance said it wasn't "Necessary" because of the fact he wasn't suicidal - so that was that. We did it on our own as an investment in the future health of our relationship, and did sessions together and apart. We both found that we benefitted greatly from these sessions, but it was a huge cost to us financially. 

This is something I am incredibly vocal about in our community - the importance of counselling and talk therapy. I become so frustrated at the lack of funding and resources available, and still do not know why these services are limited in rehab. To me, and my husband agrees - the psychological/mental/emotional health aspects of this injury - and what it does to your brain and psyche - can be so overwhelming that it can literally ruin your chances of moving forward. 

So my question to everyone else is - what is your experience with counselling post SCI? Do you think you would benefit from assistance with some form of counselling post injury?

I would love to know your experiences.

Thanks in advance 

Your WAGS of SCI
(Elena and Brooke)


  • ZcollieZcollie Moderator Posts: 239 Moderator
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    Hi Brooke,
    I am so happy that you brought this issue up and I completely agree. When I was first injured and in rehab there were no mental health counselor assigned to me or that I could go to for any questions I had about my future or injury. I only had my doctors that I could go to about questions related my injury and I had my parents but didn't want to ask them the questions I had. I think it is crazy that mental health counselors are not assigned to people who sustain a life changing accident such as a spinal cord injury.

    Counseling people that become physically disabled is what I want to do after I get my masters degree in counseling. I think the SCI population needs more mental health counselors who specialize in this area. I feel that is population is where I am feeling led to pursue and I cant wait to begin my career.

    I remember when I was still in rehab and how hopeless I felt about myself and my future. I was lost and if I would have had a professional to talk too I know it would have helped me a lot.    
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
  • BrittanyFrankBrittanyFrank Moderator Posts: 65 Moderator
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    Both of these comments are very important. I did have a mental health counselor in the hospital, but at the time I wasn't ready to face and embrace my reality. So although it was nice to have someone to go talk to once a week, the real need for counseling was in the coming months and years after my accident. In the hospital you're surrounded by resources, but once you get home you're on your own for navigating mental health care and can be very difficult to find a counselor - especially one that I felt understood me, my diagnosis and what I was going through.

    Everyone closely involved could use counseling after these life-altering accidents including family & close friends of those involved. It is a costly investment, but when you find the right fit it's totally worth it. 
  • SterlionSterlion Moderator Posts: 104 Moderator
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    @BrittanyFrank I was in the same position as you. I had someone I could talk to during rehab but I wasn't ready to accept where I was. I went through the motions and said what I felt like I needed to so nothing else would stem from this already mandatory hour of "sharing how I felt". Granted as I was getting more excited about going home I did open up more. At the beginning I felt like a patronized mental patient. 

  • ZcollieZcollie Moderator Posts: 239 Moderator
    100 Likes 100 Comments 25 Awesomes First Anniversary
    @BrittanyFrank That is a great point and thank you for sharing. I am sure it would have been to early after my accident to talk to someone, everything is still so new, and like @Sterlion mentioned I had not accepted my injury yet. I remember there was a support group every Friday that I was pushed to go to and I hated it. I was the youngest one there and did not think I needed it. It would not be until 6 years after my accident that I went to see a therapist for the first time in my life. 
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
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