If you would have told me five years ago that I would be providing counseling for folks living with chronic health challenges or substance abuse issues, let alone online, I would have said, “NO THANKS!”
As much as I have always wanted to believe that I was a miracle worker and could work within any specialty- well, let’s just say it is an over-the-top thought for any therapist. We are trained to identify, assess and diagnose what is in the DSM 5 (it is our statistical manual), but that doesn’t mean we are skilled at treating all diagnoses.
Many of us discover our interest when we are in graduate school, others find their niche at their practicum and many other therapists discover who they want to treat because their life has been affected by something similar.
That’s my story. I went into substance abuse counseling because my mother was an alcoholic (she passed away unexpectedly in 2012). Unfortunately, from 2010-2014 I secretly drank to cope with a terrible bout of postpartum, anxiety, and grief from the death of my mother. After getting sober, I developed symptoms that resulted in a diagnosis of Optic Neuritis. Three years later, I was eventually diagnosed with Relapse Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. It was also discovered that I have a small acoustic neuroma in my ear and a small fibrous dysplasia on my face- both benign tumors.
All of this to say, counseling people who are living with chronic health challenges, are sober curious, or are in recovery and want to maintain with additional support, was something I knew I needed to do.
It felt like a calling for me, whereas in the past, I struggled when counseling people who were living with chronic health challenges as it felt hopeless to me; as if we were never making progress. My view was insensitive but real for me. I felt inadequate as a counselor because I couldn’t heal someone. What they are living with is chronic and pervasive. I was used to doing brief, solution-focused therapy.
I realized in 2018 that I am transforming chronically in my health and substance abuse journey. I understand how pervasive and unpredictable having a disease can be. I feel the fear. I appreciate the successes. I have committed to healing and I accept my diagnoses. As a result, I knew I needed to give back. I created an online counseling practice and although I am trained to counsel many different diagnoses, my niche is chronic health and substance abuse and recovery. I no longer believe counseling people with chronic health challenges is hopeless, in fact, I think we provide a significant amount of courage, tenacity, and hope to our healing journey.
It took me a long time to find peace but seeing a counselor who understood me has been deeply impactful. If you are looking for support while you are grieving on your journey, wanting to understand the changes in your personal or work relationships, integrate mindfulness practices, and create tools to help with fatigue, brain fog, and decreased motivation- online counseling may be for you. Listen as I share why I created a niche around chronic health and substance abuse online counseling.
Know I am here,
Copyright 2021 SHELLEY RAMSEY DEJONGH, LPC, CSAC
"I recognize why it’s SO HARD to accept a life-altering diagnosis. Embracing who I am has been the single most important aspect of healing for me. I look forward to uncovering what emotional healing is all about for you."