Dementia is a progressive neurological impairment creating emotional trauma in social relationships with their care givers and those around them. The person has a sense of emptiness through loss of ability to do tasks effecting their verbal and cognitive abilities. This can create a loss of sensory, social contacts and memories. A person can lose the ability to recognise close family members and places, creating a frightening daily existence. Some can also hallucinate or be delusional.
With the person-centred approach concentrating on feelings, a sense of belonging, attachments and personal identity supports them as all behaviour has meaning however confusing or meaningless it may appear. The aim of therapy is to improve well-being and emotional security to create and maintain self worth for the client. Through empathic listening and adjusting ourselves to their emotional reality, viewing the world through their eyes. For many people with dementia the present moment is often the only place they can be and giving those moments a sense of well-being and belonging is what counselling should be.
Jacinta Bourke is a counsellor and psychotherapist operating in the Ealing W5 and surrounding areas. She is a member of BACP - the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.