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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
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Psycho Neurological Testing And Counseling

Over the last two weeks we have been discussing one way in which well spouses can determine whether behavior displayed by their ill partners is caused by their illness or is a way they have chosen to act. We have focused on Psycho-Neurological testing, what it can tell us, as well as its pros and cons.  We have said that just as important as the information the test gives, is what we do with the information and how it can help a couple handle some of the disturbing behavior the well spouse is subjected to and the ill spouse may be totally oblivious of.   We addressed how to work with a counselor so that you can get the answers you need and the necessity to make sure that as a couple you and your spouse have the same goals.

 

Many spouses who have entered this testing journey have written saying that, “He is not the man I married.” and feel that the test results and “getting the proper therapy for him” will be the solution. They hope it will restore their marriage and reduce the anger they feel toward their spouse.

 

Many well spouses have been married for quite some time before they reach the point of testing and or counseling. A large part of those years may have been spent dealing with illness. Chances are there is much in the marriage and the relationship that needs to be worked out. This would be the case whether or not illness was a part of the marriage. Illness has just exacerbated and compounded normal marital problems. Some of the ill spouse’s behaviors (and that of the well spouse) may be things neither wants to change right now. These behaviors may have nothing or everything to do with the illness but not be caused by it. The test results will help set realistic goals and enhance understanding for both spouses. That is why marriage counseling should be part of any plan. 

 

Like it or not, you will both need to be part of the solution. There will be things that you may have to learn to help the ill spouse with. You may discover how you are enabling and supporting the very behavior you don’t like and need to learn how to stop. A good counselor can help enormously with this and may be the only way to help you put the pieces back. If you have children, it may be helpful to involve them in the therapy as much for their sake as yours and your spouse. This is even truer if they are still living at home. The illness has affected them as well and they may also be contributing, unwittingly, to the problems.

 

As many of us know only too well, the cost of testing and therapy can be expensive. Some therapists, however, will make concessions when you share your financial situation with them. Don’t be afraid to discuss money with the therapist. There are also agencies, Jewish and non-Jewish, that have an income-based sliding scale for therapy. Another source for you might be the various groups that give support to patients with a specific illness and their families, like the MS Society.  Some of these agencies have contracts with therapists who serve their clients at a reduced cost or no cost at all depending on the situation.  An additional benefit here is that most of these therapists understand what living with illness means for the well spouse and his family as well as the ill person.

 

The thought of therapy can be very frightening. Asking a well spouse to take on a commitment like couple counseling on top of their daily burdens often feels like one task too many added to a day that is more than full. Many people feel it is more than they can cope with. But if a well spouse chooses to continue in the marriage, is there another choice? The anger many well spouses live with can consume them and even cause them to develop their own chronic illness. Caregivers often predecease their chronically ill spouses if they don’t take care of themselves. Counseling, whether individual (if couple counseling isn’t going to work) and or marriage counseling (if it is appropriate) or both may be the only wise alternative.

 

Time and circumstance changes us all. Illness takes its toll on everyone. As the reader wrote, “He is not the man I married.”  But we are no longer the partners they chose either. Hopefully, with counseling you will be able to rekindle the feelings that brought you together originally or at least be able to make a satisfying life for yourself within the marriage.


 


You can contact me at annnovick@hotmail.com

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Well spouses have often discovered that their friends and relatives, despite their closeness to the situation, often don’t realize the tremendous emotional impact living with chronic illness has on the family. With the best intentions, suggestions, ideas and criticism are offered, based on the non-experience of those with healthy families. Even when the good intentioned get a taste of the difficulties, it is sometimes not enough for them to then identify and understand what the family of the chronically ill must face on a constant basis.

Over the past two weeks I have shared letters from a therapist and a well spouse. Both of the letters gave personal insights into the process of losing hope, how we react when that happens and some ways of coping when test scores, diagnosis and just simple repetitive behavior indicate that change for the better is impossible.

Dear Ann,

I’ve read your last few articles on psycho-neurological testing (Oct.8-22) with interest. As a therapist who has counseled couples dealing with chronic illness, I’d like to give you another perspective.

Dear Ann,

Your articles on the Neuro-Psychological Testing were right on (October 8-22). My husband underwent testing twice and your articles explained it things exactly the way they were. Besides the test, we also tried therapy.

Very often when we can’t face our big hurts or big loses we focus on the little ones. We can discuss those. We can cry over the small loses, be angry at the smaller hurts even though it may look trite and sound ridiculous to others.

Over the last two weeks we have been discussing one way in which well spouses can determine whether behavior displayed by their ill partners is caused by their illness or is a way they have chosen to act. We have focused on Psycho-Neurological testing, what it can tell us, as well as its pros and cons.

Last week I discussed a question that haunts many well spouses: not knowing if the difficult and often inappropriate behavior frequently displayed by their partners are caused by the disease and therefore not-controllable, or if the behavior is a choice the spouse makes and can therefore be changed. This doubt can be the source of much frustration and many marital disagreements. One way of alleviating this doubt is by having a psycho- neurological work up done. But that path is not so simple.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/psycho-neurological-testing-and-counseling/2009/10/21/

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