“A person’s MS is as unique as they are”

Niki Gilding, a counsellor trained to help people with MS, explains why this complex condition needs specialist attention

I have been working as a counsellor with people with multiple sclerosis (MS) for over two years. I came with a background in healthcare so was used to working with people who are ill or living with a condition that impacts their life. I used to for MS-UK’s counselling service when that was running.

As a counsellor I work to a strict ethical code, including being impartial… however, I have noticed that through my MS-UK training and client work I have developed rather a soft spot for people with MS!

MS-UK’s eLearning course, Counselling People with MS, offers a comprehensive insight into MS. How the myriad of symptoms can take hold and be difficult to diagnose, how living with MS can affect people and impact on their relationships, and how research is advancing our understanding of the illness to provide hope for new treatments. It is for qualified counsellors who have already completed MS-UK’s MS Awareness eLearning course.

Sharing the load

The unfairness and uncertainty of MS are a lot to bear for anyone and sharing the load with someone can be a crucial factor in navigating symptoms and treatments. How someone feels about their diagnosis can also affect their symptoms. For example, a person’s frustration and anger with their condition may mean that they try to ignore how they feel and plough through with their daily activities, when this can actually make their symptoms worse.

MS is as tenacious as it is mysterious. It appears to have a ‘pick and mix’ of symptoms which means a person’s MS is as unique as they are. These symptoms may seem invisible to other people but are oh-so-real to the person with the disease.

In my counselling I work with a client’s uniqueness and tailor their therapy around it. Many people come to me with a myriad of stuck points, whether it be struggling to accept the disease’s progression or not knowing how to tell other people about their illness. All of these issues are often mixed other factors such as someone’s identity, relationships, work and hopes for the future. By sharing these stuck points and finding ways to comprehend them, counselling helps clients to re-set their identity, hopes and possibilities rather than continue to hide or struggle with their symptoms.

Reap the benefits

At the start I noted that I had a soft spot for my clients with MS. This is out of the huge respect I have for the courage they have when they share the issues that MS has brought to their lives. The MS-UK’s directory of specialist counsellors offers a list of counsellors who have completed the training, many of whom offer concessionary rates. If you’re struggling with an MS-related issue or a life event that is affecting your MS why not take a look at the MS-UK Counselling Directory and, if someone’s profile clicks with you, why not give it a go? There is nothing to lose and an awful lot to gain.