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  • Writer's pictureLucy Warner

Working with Chronic Illness

As 13.7 million people live with a long- term illness in the United Kingdom (Department for Work and Pension, 2021) and 7.5 million people are registered as disabled (Public Health England), therapists in different settings including those in private practice, are likely to work with clients who have a chronic illness. Rates of depression (Patten, 2016), issues with work life (Mitchell, 2022) and loss of identity (Weingarten, 2013) have been extensively researched in recent years on the subject of how chronic illness can affect the individual.

The term “chronic illness” encompasses an extensive definition of long-term health conditions including cancer, lung disease, diabetes, MS, heart disease, kidney disease and bowel disease among many others (Bridges, 2018). A long-term physical illness is “a health problem that requires ongoing management over a period of years or decades and is one that cannot currently be cured but can be controlled with the use of medication and/or other therapies” (NHS Choices, 2022).

A diagnosis of a chronic illness can affect every aspect of a person’s life, including their intimate relationships. Extensive research has traditionally focused on the ill person. There is now a wealth of evidence in the literature (Weingarten, 2013, Duffy, 2020, McLeod, 2013, Basinger et al, 2021, Gray et al, 2017) relating to the effects illness has on relationships and partners, yet the role of therapists when working with chronic illness and the affects it has on the clients’ intimate relationships, has not received the same attention.

The fact of the matter is that we are all living longer. As people live longer, the prevalence of illness is increasing because of evolving medical interventions and science, and illness is going to be present in the therapy room. It is inevitable therefore, that therapists are going to see illness whether they specialise in working with ill- health such as with clients with cancer, or work with clients with other chronic illnesses such as heart disease, arthritis or diabetes for example.

Living with a chronic illness is physically and psychologically demanding and the challenges of managing a chronic illness are not isolated to the individual, but also impacts the partner, loved ones, and social relationships within families.

I provide a safe space to support and work with you to explore your issues to help you gain a better understanding of yourself to reflect, grow and initiate the changes you are hoping to make. Our relationship is therefore built on trust, empathy and is completely non-judgmental. I work with you at your pace, and will listen and hear you to help you gain the changes and answers you are searching for.

For more information or to book an appointment, please email me on: or call: 07385 826176


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