Jeffrey Bolek, Ph.D.
This area of psychology involves treating a broad range of problems to promote recovery and healing. Some of the problems that rehabilitation psychologists treat may be mental or emotional, and they may include such things as depression, anxiety, developmental disabilities, and learning disabilities. Other problems that rehabilitation psychologists treat might be physical, such as addiction or chronic pain. Problems that rehabilitation psychologists treat might be chronic or acute, and they might also be genetic or acquired. The problem could be related to job stress, or family issues. Whatever the cause, something is not going right.
Imagine living your life with an illness or disability that you can’t control, or imagine that your loved one had an illness or disability that made living life difficult. Imagine how agonizing it would be, how helpless you would feel. Rehabilitation psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on treating individuals dealing with disabilities and problems that make living normal lives difficult. Professionals in this field try to help people with these types of problems adjust and work toward leading happy and healthy lives.
Rehabilitation psychology serves people off all ages affected by any injury or chronic condition that leads to disability. Typical population groups include those with debilitating stress, constant pain, traumatic brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, limb loss, sensory loss, burn injury, multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular disorders. Individuals with disability and their caregivers/ family members are served by rehabilitation psychologists. Injuries and chronic medical conditions, including traumatic experiences, often cause post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.
There is no “mild” case of PTSD. Trauma, whether physical, emotional or mental, causes physical changes to the brain. Time does not always heal all wounds. What often happens is that you find a way to live with the trauma, you feel a little bit better. What is really happening is that the pain becomes the “new normal”, you learn to live with it. You forget what being happy feels like.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Therapy can help you heal and find your new self. For many this new self opens up possibilities that did not exist before the trauma. Many find strength and courage they didn’t know they had.
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