Experiences with psychology after stroke (non-YouTube version)

The following people are speaking about their impressions of their experiences with psychology after stroke.

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Fran and Derek

What do you think was the most important thing that psychology helped you with?

My concentration. And being able to think things through a bit better before I do any actions.

I think about what I do before I actually do it now and that is really help from the psychologist.

Fran and Neil

If someone else was in your position, somebody else has had a stroke. Similar to what you’ve been through and they’re referred for psychology but they’re a bit maybe ambivalent about it.

What would you say to somebody like that to help them through, to go into psychology?

There’s a few things I’d say. First of all I would say it’s absolutely crucial …. based on my own experience… and you…

I think there is a perception that you’re gonna go into a room, there’s going to be a couch and you are going to lie there…

There’s this perception of psychology…my experience of it has been the complete opposite it’s been a time where you can talk to somebody who really understands what you’re going through.

who will work with you as opposed to lecture you …. and will give you some coping strategies, some ideas, some solutions to some of the problems that you’re having.

…. and it’s up to me if I choose to take those. So you don’t get a prescription like you go to the GP and say right, you must do x, y, z.

They’ll just say look, from our experience and what you’ve said I think this this this would help you and that for me has just changed everything.

…by going to the psychologist for getting psychological help has helped me to achieve and get my life back on track, in some direction than it was before, you know, but so yeah I would encourage anybody to do that.

I think it’s the most critical thing.

Because when you have a stroke, obviously depends where your starting point is. But you’ve had a stroke (yeah) now all the doctors and neurologists can do all their tests and do your brain scan and you can look at it.

But that’s what you’re living with now and there will be lots of support physically, if you’ve got physical problems and will be… occupational support.

But the actual key one for me is what goes on in here. And how you gonna move forward for the rest of your life. That’s where the psychological help is
is a crucial part of that. I think it’s the most important part of it.

So I would strongly advise anybody to go and get that. It’s a brilliant experience going the whole process.

It’s emotional, but… it is a really good experience to go through.

Fran and Marion

I’d like to talk a little bit about your experience of your referral to psychology. Do you know who it was that referred you?

Yes, it was my physiotherapist from the stroke unit. And I was just having been talking with me one day.

Just general conversation at the end of our actual exercises. And she said… “I know you’re trying… very well. She said, “you are actually doing
better than you realise you are”.

But she said “I think you really need to see someone else”

She said “I think be good if you could see a psychologist”

…and… I said “a psychologist?” (laughs)

And she said “yes, I’ll make an appointment for you” and she said “this will help you tremendously”.

So, I said right. She said “but there is quite a waiting list. So it’s not going to happen next week, or you know”.

So what were your first thoughts, when you first went to see the psychologist, remember back to that first appointment.

I was quite apprehensive because I didn’t really know what to expect at all. And although I may talk quite a lot when it comes to certain issues, and certain things.

I don’t always find it easy to talk with people and I had no idea, I thought a psychologist would be very exacting.

And you know it would be just question after question. And I thought, well I’ll just go and see. If what happens and how this goes. That was before I actually… that was when I was going for my first appointment.

Aww… the difference is just incredible. My first visit, I was so surprised.

Because I found he was so relaxed. And he actually brought me out to say some of the things that I was feeling because he understood every single one of them.

And even some that I hadn’t even got to.

He would say to me, and such and such. And I thought gosh, you know…

This is someone who really… understands how this is, and what I’m feeling.

And he didn’t make me feel “oh dear you should be…” you know, “getting on with it”, or nothing like that at all.

It wasn’t sympathy, it was understanding.

And that was really what was… so badly-needed, really.

So at the end of that first session it sounds like you felt relief almost?

Oh yes. Yes I did and I was very pleased when he said he giving me the next appointment. Because I thought good, because I really…

I think I could do with this help here. And I can definitely talk to him.


He was assessing me obviously as… we were having the appointments but the first big thing, a thing was he said to me (erm) don’t dwell on the things you can’t do.

Because that is one of the main things that I found I did. I kept thinking, I can’t do this, now I can’t do that. Now with all the things that you feel you’ve lost because you can no longer do.

He said try and concentrate and dwell on the things you can do.

And… really when I started to put that into practice I realised it was actually very accurate. And I realised I could do more things than I thought I could and then of course goals. You know, he started saying you know…

“what about goals?” and I thought ‘goals’? (laughs)

I thought, right wait ’til we hear (laughs)

So he said “What are main problems? Give me 3 of your main problems.”

So… moods, you know. Definitely first, and thinking you know, losing words and writing. You know putting letters in the wrong order. Or the wrong words, or whatever.

So… the end of that session I had homework to do. (both laugh)

Was that a surprise?

Yes it was actually! I mean it was just you’ve got homework for the next appointment and I was given this, you know, piece of paper.

And it has the problems, the 3 problems that… had been mentioned. And I had to address these problems and then write down, what I was doing to try and overcome and achieve them.

So that was actually the first lesson, the first homework that I had.

So that was a good technique for you?

It was very good, because I knew I would have to give him it when I saw him again (laughs). So I thought I really have to do this.

And I really sat and gave it quite a lot of thought and that actually made me think, and that made me realise exactly what was happening here and it made me believe that I could take more control of it.

Fran and Murdoch

So… if… another patient, another person who’s had a similar stroke to yours, were being referred to psychology. But they weren’t sure, they’re a bit apprehensive. What sort of… would you say to somebody like that?

I think they should take the opportunity. It’s not… it’s very informal, it’s very relaxed. It gives you the opportunity to talk about things in confidence.

It allows you the opportunity to talk about things that you might feel… find difficult, to speaking to people that are close to you.

And the process itself. Even just the… the physical process of sitting in a
room, for an hour. With someone where nothing else gets in the way of that.

I think is really important and I think you know, I think, it’s made a big
difference to my life and that’s something that I really appreciate.

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