The Family Counselling Service at the National Spinal Injuries Centre (NSIC), Stoke Mandeville Hospital started in September 2008 and has been running successfully since then. A counsellor is available to speak to any family members of new and re-admission SCI patients at the NSIC. This includes the immediate family, close relatives and friends.
If a member of your family has sustained an SCI, it is understandable that you and other close relatives may have concerns about their SCI and the future. Although you can be assured that a highly competent team of health professionals will be looking after your relative at the NSIC, it is important that relatives are also given the opportunity to talk in confidence to a professional counsellor. Counselling may help individuals to address difficult issues, find ways of coping during a traumatic period in their life and readjust to any challenges that the future may bring.
None of us knows how we will feel after a distressing event, but some common emotions that may be experienced could be around feelings of anxiety, sadness, expectations of loss, anger and guilt.
An appointment with the counsellor is normally about 50-60 minutes and is free of charge. The family member (or family group) may only want to see the counsellor once, but further counselling can be arranged over an agreed period of time until they feel ready to stop. SIA have also published a book called Family Matters which is part of the Moving Forward series (book number 18) and has been written for relatives adjusting to life after a family member has sustained an SCI. A copy of this book can either be obtained through the SIA Shop or through the Family Counsellor at the NSIC.
SIA has now extended the Family Counselling Service by providing the opportunity to access a counsellor by telephone. More information.