Therapists and counselors interact and help different kinds of people who have different kinds of problems in their lives. These therapists and counselors have to use different approaches to help their clients regain normalcy. One group of people that requires the help of therapists are those people who are dying. These could be people who have had long illnesses like diabetes or cancer or could have had accidents and will not live beyond a certain time. When dealing with this group of people, therapists and counselors use appropriate approaches. Two of the most common approaches adopted by most therapists and counselors are the cognitive approach and the psychoanalytic approach.
The cognitive approach of counseling and therapy is one based on the assumption that an individual’s thoughts have a direct connection with their feelings. Using the cognitive approach, counselors and therapists can administer therapies to dying to people using rational emotive, reality therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or the transactional analysis therapy. In the cognitive approach, expert therapists work closely with their patients to solve the problems at hand by assisting them to identify wrong thoughts and motives that may result in emotional discomfort. In this approach, therapists do not emphasize on the history or cause of the problem. It mainly focuses on the current situation, the patients’ emotional feelings and what they are thinking.
For patients who are dying, this approach is the best because it emphasizes on present events, feelings or thoughts. For a dying person, the past may simply bring them nostalgia and make them even more emotionally distorted when they face the fact that they will soon die. The approach focuses on the patient’s current situation. The therapist or counselor focuses on making the patient’s current mental situation stable. This is on the assumption that a good mental state would help make the patient emotionally stable.
In the cognitive approach, traits such as short therapy durations, homework between sessions and a collaborative relationship between therapists and clients are common. Therapists who use the cognitive approach to treat their patients must have a strong personality. They must have the patience to understand the mental state of the patient and help the patient change their mental state. Therefore, they ought to have excellent communication skills and be interactive enough to establish and sustain a good rapport with patients.
Another approach to administering therapy to dying people is the psychoanalytic approach. In this approach, the cause of the patient’s feelings and behaviors of the patient are analyzed. This is done through exploration of the patient’s conscious and unconscious mind. Therefore, therapists try to use the patient’s history to motivate the patient unconsciously. This approach involves lengthy therapies in most cases. Therapists using this approach to treat dying patients must be cautious not to distort the patient’s emotional condition by reminding them of their causes of death.
In the psychoanalytic approach, therapists must have a strong personality to take a patient through their causes of death to making them come to terms with the fact that they will soon die. The expert must have good communication skills and be a good observer of emotional changes in patients. The therapist must also be courageous enough to hold such emotional conversations during therapy.
Therefore, the psychoanalytic and cognitive approaches are some of the most effective approaches used by counselors and therapists when dealing with dying patients. This is because the approaches are detailed and tailored towards ensuring that the patient’s emotional and mental conditions are stable prior to their demise.
Montgomery, M. J., & Kottler, J. A. (2010). Theories of Counseling and Therapy: An Experiential Approach (2 ed.). New York: SAGE.
Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2012). Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories in Context and Practice: Skills, Strategies, and Techniques (2 ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons.