by Kimberly Castelo, MS, LLC, LMFTA* –
When you go to a therapist or a doctor with a problem, you’re often given a diagnosis. Depending on the diagnosis, you may think no big deal or you may worry. A diagnoses can be concerning.
Truth be told, it’s easy for society to see you as a diagnosis, as a label. This is a ‘thin’ description of who you really are. All of us desire to be loved and accepted. Those needs do not change because of a diagnosis. All people have strengths and gifts and these, too, do not change because of a diagnosis.
Parents, going from doctor to doctor, find it’s a challenge not to focus on their child’s diagnosis because it’s what’s discussed at all their visits. not just those with healthcare providers. For example, a teacher might tell a parent, “Your child has problems fitting in at school.” Adults, too, may see themselves strictly in terms of their diagnosis. When talking to a doctor, an adult might focus on the statement, “You have to take this medication for the rest of your life.” Whatever the message, people often hear only the part about their limitations instead of listening to the positives such as what they can do.
Diagnoses are important in the healthcare field. First, diagnoses help health professionals understand how to provide the best care for the good of the patient by identifying and streamlining treatments. Second, insurance companies often need an official diagnosis in order to reimburse healthcare expenses.
In my opinion, a diagnosis is just one element of who a person is. The goal is to help parents (and society) create a “thick description” of life. For instance, instead of thinking only about how difficult a diagnosed condition is, focus as well on what brings joy to the individual and the family. What gifts does the one with the diagnosed condition have and how can these gifts be enhanced? What do joyful moments contribute to the family and how are such moments encouraged? What is the power of community in a family’s life and how is this power sustained?
Learning to redefine what it means to have a diagnosed condition is difficult yet so powerful. One path that often brings perspective to a diagnosis is therapy as therapy can help prevent a diagnosis from defining who you are, leaving you open to understand that the diagnosed condition is just a part of you, not the whole you. By redefining a diagnosis, we help remove the stigma, and encourage individuals and families to focus on the whole and find strength, hope and joy together.
About the Author
*Kimberly Castelo, MS, LMFTA is the founder of Healing Moments Counseling. She has a Master in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Master of Divinity. Kimberly belongs to both the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and the Washington Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. She is a member of the American Association of Sexuality, Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). She trained intensively in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Kimberly is certified in Prepare / Enrich and completed an Emotionally Focused Therapy Externship as well.
Reviewed by ADDR 4-4-2015 (mm)