Enter their subjective world
Enter Their Subjective World to Connect with Them
Four Steps to Convince Psychosis Sufferers to Receive Treatment
Regardless of any ailments, we all know that early treatment or intervention results in better outcomes. Unfortunately, it is extremely challenging for family members to convince schizophrenia patients to seek treatment. This is because many sufferers are unaware that they are unwell or they do not think that there is anything wrong with them. In this article, professional psychological counsellors from The Companions will share four key steps that family members can adopt to persuade psychosis sufferers to seek help. Family members can also turn to coaches to pick up skills they can use to manage and overcome the challenges they face.
There are two categories of symptoms of schizophrenia: Positive symptoms include delusions and, auditory and visual hallucinations, etc.; Negative symptoms include lack of motivation and listlessness, thus leading to neglect in personal hygiene etc. Often, family members are the first ones to notice the positive symptoms as the sufferer becomes hyper-sensitive and having thoughts that colleagues or neighbours are trying to harm him or her. Gradually, the delusional thoughts occur more frequently and the contents of his/her thoughts are out of touch with reality. Hallucinations that sufferers experience include visual, tactile, and auditory forms. Usually, sufferers will first experience auditory hallucinations which they tell their family members that they often hear a voice speaking to them.
Acknowledge the Condition to Ensure Timely Treatment
Sufferers often receive responses like “No, that is not true. You are being silly!” when they tell their family members about their delusions or hallucinations. When the condition persists, it is best to promptly consult a family doctor or a psychological counsellor for referral to a psychiatrist in private practice. Opting psychiatrist in private practice facilitates timely clinical attention rather than be placed on long waiting list for an appointment in public hospitals, which is a common occurrence. A long wait may cause sufferers to miss the optimal window for treatment. Unfortunately, many psychosis sufferers do not receive prompt treatments. This is because they subjectively perceive their experience as real and are unaware that they are unwell. They also often feel that their family or friends do not believe them, thus do not see the need to seek help. As such, it leads to a challenging and troubling situation for their family.
4 Steps to Convince Sufferers to Seek Professional Help
To help sufferers gain awareness of their condition and to convince them to seek treatment, counsellors at The Companions suggest that caregivers receive coaching on effective coping skills, in addition to applying the 4 steps listed below.
1. Improve Active Listening
To help sufferers gain awareness of their condition and to convince them to seek treatment, counsellors at The Companions suggest that caretakers can receive coaching on effective active listening, in addition to applying the 4 steps listed below.
2. Enter The Sufferers’ World with Empathy
Recognise that psychosis sufferers believe that their experiences are real. Family members can try entering their subjective world with empathy in order to better understand the sufferers’s thoughts and feelings. For example, a sufferer may feel uneasy thinking that everyone is watching him or her. Family members can attempt to put themselves in his or her shoes to feel the same uneasiness. This allows us to better understand how the sufferer feels. Do note that understanding how a sufferer feels does not mean that we agree with the him/her. Strive to understand the sufferer’s subjective feelings, whether they are anger, fear, or worry – thus enables us to better communicate with the person. Talking to a sufferer with such understanding of his/her feelings increases the likelihood that the sufferer will open up to sharing his or her inner world.
3. Go with The Flow and Avoid Arguing with the Sufferers
Listen carefully to identify key points when conversing with the sufferer in an attempt to persuade the person to seek medical attention. One can go along with the thoughts of the sufferer. For instance, if he or she feels being misunderstood by the family, show that you feel sorry for him or her. Then suggest that he or she may want to see a doctor so that the doctor can prove the family to be wrong. Or, you can suggest that seeing a doctor may be a gift to the family and can give them peace of mind. The key point is to provide suggestions in accordance to the sufferer’s thoughts, give him/her space, and not involve in an argument in attempt to convince the person seek medical attention.
4. Increase the Sufferers’ Motivation to seek Medical Attention
Try different ways to motivate the sufferer. These include making suggestions that seeing a doctor early can prove that he or she is right, or that seeing the doctor is for the sake of the family. Also, do accompany the person to make a visit to the doctor’s office. These approaches will motivate the sufferer to seek help for his/ her condition.
Caregivers of Schizophrenia Patients Should Also Take Care of Themselves. Reflect on the following:
- Have you lost control over your life?
- Has the caregiving impacted your financial situation?
- Do you often feel unhappy and has this affected your life?
- Do you feel uneasy when you are with the sufferer?
- Do you feel lonely with no one else supporting you?
- Do you often not pay attention to others?
- Do you feel ashamed of the sufferer’s condition and try to hide it from others?
- Are you constantly worried about the future?
Dr. Vinci Cheung