Working therapeutically with “identity” following a Neurological Injury

The impact of neurological and brain injury can have far-reaching consequences that impact an individual’s functioning. This can include experiences of loss of cognitive skills, physical abilities, and emotional functioning difficulties as well as the loss of independence, a sense of agency, work and vocational roles, family roles and social participation. These losses can affect an individual’s adjustment to their new circumstances as well as distorting their sense of “identity”. This presentation will briefly review existing research in the area. It will also focus on how to begin to formulate and work therapeutically with difficulties with a change in identity after a neurological injury. Attention will also be paid to additional work that is possible with therapy teams and families of the people whose identity has changed as a result of their neurological condition. This paper explores how new identities are formed during intensive group rehabilitation, where patients with TBI acquire critical self-awareness skills. It argues that the objects used in therapy both nourish and help control the “new selves” that are defined collaboratively within Western norms.

Author(s): Amanda Mwale

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