Therapists Who Work with Dementia Patients and Their Families

Nov 21, 2022 | Living with Dementia

Facing a dementia diagnosis is daunting at best. It can have a big impact on your life and your family. Whether it is someone you love, or it is you in the early stage of dementia, you do not have to cope with it alone. Therapy is a great option for dealing with the emotional impact of the condition.

Types of Mental Health Professionals

When you or your loved one are looking for a therapist who is experienced with dementia, you may encounter some confusion with the many titles that mental health professionals hold, as well as what they treat.

Some mental health care professionals state that they work with Alzheimer’s patients, and some say that they provide support for individuals with dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, and therapists who provide mental health services for Alzheimer’s patients typically support the emotional needs that come with other dementia diagnoses.

The most common roles held by mental health professionals that provide counseling include family therapists, social workers, counselors, and psychologists.

Psychiatrists help with the diagnosis of dementia and manage treatment, but with a focus mainly on providing medications that help to tamper down specific symptoms. Family doctors often refer patients to psychiatrists to diagnose the type of dementia.

Getting Started – Your First Visit

Your first visit with your therapist will be different from future sessions. It typically consists of an evaluation to determine your therapy options.

During your first visit expect to discuss:

  • Type of counseling needed (the best type for your dementia)
  • Who will be counseled (you alone, you and your family members, or a group of individuals who also deal with dementia)
  • How often you will have sessions
  • How long you will be treated

Types of Counseling

There are many different types of counseling that can support you and your family and help you cope with your dementia diagnosis. Depending upon your treatment plan, you may be involved in a single type of counseling, or your therapist may lump several types together.

Individual Counseling

This type of therapy involves meeting with your counselor one-on-one in the privacy of their office. This is especially helpful in early-stage dementia.

Individual counseling helps to ward off depression and anxiety. It helps you adapt to any changes in lifestyle and abilities that occur with dementia.

Individual counseling can help you retain a sense of autonomy – a sense that you have control over your life, which is innately important to your mental health and overall well-being.

Family Therapy

Family therapy consists of you and your loved ones meeting together with the therapist. As a family, you learn ways to support each other, cope with the diagnosis, and manage the many challenges and changes that come with dementia.

Stress and worry can play horrible games with a person’s mind. It is not uncommon to doubt your own well-being when a family member lives with dementia. It can lead you to question,  “Can Dementia Be Hereditary?”  A family therapist can help you work through your worries and frustrations and ensure that you take good care of yourself both mentally and physically.

Group Therapy

This type of therapy involves meeting as a group with individuals that share similar challenges in life, with your counselor in attendance. This setting allows you and everyone in attendance to communicate their struggles, find solutions, and to not feel isolated with the challenges that come with dementia.

Support Groups

Support groups do not have a counselor in attendance. Your support group might consist of people with early-stage dementia, as well as their families and caregivers. Regular group meetings support emotional wellness through the sharing of experiences and advice.

Caregiver Stress

The stress that comes with caregiving a loved one with dementia can be tremendous. If you are in this role, do not leave yourself out of the picture when considering counseling. Therapists that work with individuals living with dementia are aware that family and caregiver stress is prominent, and therefore family and caregiver counseling should always be available.

Counselors can help you recognize what high-level stress looks like in caregiving. We also invite you to refer to our blogs for help: How to Recognize Caregiver Burnout and Caregiver Stress Check.

Family Therapists with Alzheimer’s Experience

If you live in the Round Rock, or Austin, Texas, area, here are several family therapists with Alzheimer’s experience:

Divine Mercy Counseling – (512) 855-7259

Catherine C. Stansbury, Clinical Social Work/Therapist, LMSW, practices in Austin, Texas, at Divine Mercy Counseling. Alzheimer’s is one of Catherine’s specialties. She has “a special interest in older adults and their caregivers,” as well as persons with dementia.

Wellspring Behavioral Health – (512) 521-3718

Abigail McNeely, Psychologist, PsyD, LP, provides counseling for individuals in Austin, Texas. One of her specialties is Alzheimer’s. Abigail is the president of Wellspring Behavioral Health, which has a psychologist, a licensed counselor, and a certified coach on staff.

Integrity Psychology of Austin – (512) 456-3196

Paul Wachowiak, Psychologist, PhD, practices under his business name Integrity Psychology of Austin. His office is located in Round Rock, Texas. Paul works with issues associated with aging and loss of function, “elderly persons disorders,” including dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

Many more family therapists are available in the Round Rock and Austin, Texas area. Online sites are available that can help you search for family therapists that specialize in dementia and Alzheimer’s in your area, such as Psychology Today. On this site, you can browse by state, popular cities, or city and zip code. Additional selection choices include age (such as Elders 65+) and family therapy.

We Are Here to Help

If you are in or plan to be in the Round Rock or North Austin, Texas area, we would love to help you with your questions! Contact us online or schedule a virtual tour online or call us at 512-399-5080.