Perfect health is an ideal that in practice eludes most people much of the time. When we experience illness we are affected not only in our bodies but also in terms of our thoughts and feelings. This can profoundly influence our decisions and behaviour, and impact upon our relationships with family and friends. A person’s well-being and resilience in the face of illness is significantly altered by these factors.
We use group work to explore these thoughts and feelings and work with participants to help them understand their decisions and behaviours. This leads to a re-evaluation of their coping mechanisms, often leading to greater independence, improved physical and social functioning and improved well-being. This has been demonstrated both in reduced emergency admissions following completion of a group, and in our audit of social and psychological functioning.
Following our experience working with ten groups focussed on people with long term illness, we are now offering this approach to anyone who feels that it would be appropriate to them. Some individuals may have or have had significant health problems (e.g. cancer, myocardial infarction, major surgery), a long term illness, or be a parent or carer to someone with health problems, and people with mental health problems may also find the approach relevant to them. Those with no current health problems who might benefit from a preventative intervention can usefully attend, for example those with significant anxiety about their health and lifestyles.
Groups will meet for two and half hours weekly for ten weeks. We incorporate some gentle exercise/relaxation into the group work. There will be a half hour break for a cup of tea and informal discussion (as a way of building group cohesion).
Narrative will continue to be the basis of the group work. Through working with narrative a sense of each person’s way of managing their life and their illness experience emerges. In each group particular themes are identified which we then work with, the aim being to move towards looking at well-being thereby supporting participants in maximising their physical, social and emotional functioning.
Peter Leviné and Margaret Jackson are delighted to be joined in the project by Yvonne Lawrence, UKCP registered psychotherapist.
Referrals are welcome from any health professionals, as are self referrals. Please feel free to contact Peter, Yvonne or Margaret for further information or to discuss specific referrals.