Understanding Rehabilitation Psychology: a Q&A with Dr. Danielle Miro

Q: So Dr. Miro, what exactly is a rehabilitation psychologist? A: Rehabilitation psychologists work with persons with chronic health conditions and/or disabilities. They partner with their clients using a holistic perspective (as well as working with their medical team, support system, and environment!) to promote positive adaptation and adjustment to maximize a person's health, coping, independence, choice, values-based living, functional abilities, self-confidence or self-esteem, quality of life, and behavioral control. Rehabilitation psychology emphasizes respect for individuals, personal strength, and recognizes the real-world impact environmental, social, or physical contexts have on health conditions.

Q: What type of client could benefit from working with a rehabilitation psychologist? A: Most people will experience some sort of injury or illness in their lifetime, or will find themselves in the role of care-giving for someone who has. Sometimes, people will have to cope with long-term, chronic conditions in themselves or those they love. Someone who is personally dealing with medical conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, chronic pain, amputation, neuromuscular disorders, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, autoimmune disorders, or acquired/traumatic brain injury could greatly benefit from working with us. Or someone who has primary responsibility to care for someone who is living with a chronic condition is another great fit for my work. Sickness influences the whole familial system so I can work with people to maintain compassionate, respectful, and holistic care partnerships. Also, we have lots of experience just helping people navigate the aging process...in other words, just about everyone could benefit!

Q: What types of things do rehabilitation psychologists actually do? A: We work to help people cope with new (or long-standing) medical conditions and those who have the responsibility of caring for a loved one with a health-related issue. Neither is easy!  But having support can make the management of chronic or new medical conditions and/or the care giving role more doable. Additionally, we explore the implications of illness to a person's life context (currently and in the future as our needs and environments shift over time!).  

Q: What do you have going on at DCHP right now? A: I am excited to start an 8-week support group for people managing Type 2 Diabetes. There are some unique challenges and stressors in living with T2DM and I am glad to help people learn more about coping with the emotional and mental (as well as behavioral) aspects of this condition. I also have a monthly support group for men (or male-identifying individuals) who are in caregiving roles. Whether it is for a spouse, parent or another loved one, men who are primary caregivers have a unique set of challenges and responsibilities. I look forward to getting people together to discuss those challenges and give non-judgmental support. People can learn more or sign up for either group on our website.

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