Academic journal article The Professional Counselor

A Therapeutic Approach for Treating Chronic Illness and Disability among College Students

Academic journal article The Professional Counselor

A Therapeutic Approach for Treating Chronic Illness and Disability among College Students

Article excerpt

Research in chronic illness and disability (CID) in college students has demonstrated that students with disabilities encounter more difficulties psychosocially than their nondisabled counterparts. Subsequently, these difficulties impact the ability of these students to successfully adapt. Using the illness intrusiveness model in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the authors propose therapeutic interventions that could be taken with these students to enhance their overall well-being, adaptation and academic success. The authors also provide final thoughts with directions for future research and application.

Keywords: chronic illness, disability, illness intrusiveness model, cognitive behavioral therapy, coAege students with disabilities

Chronic illness and disability (CID) impact more than 35 million Americans, often interfering with their everyday life (Livneh & Antonak, 1997). The condition is typically accompanied by a prolonged course of treatment, an often uncertain prognosis, constant and intense psychosocial stress, increasing interference with the performance of daily activities and life roles, and conflict with family and friends (Livneh & Antonak, 1997). Approximately 11% of undergraduate students reported having a disability in 2008 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011) and 88% of colleges are continuing to enroll students with disabilities (The Princeton Review, 2011). In addition to adjusting to the presence of a disability, adjustment to independent living and beginning academic courses at an undergraduate institution can be challenging for someone with a chronic illness or disability.

The severity of the disability and its functional limitations do not always correlate in a uniform pattem with coping and adjustment (Lustig, Rosenthal, Strauser, & Haynes, 2000). Similarly, disability may include permanent and significant changes in an individual's body appearance, functional capacities, body image and self-concept (Lustig et al., 2000). This variable, typically referred to as psychosocial adaptation, becomes compounded among college students and deserves further investigation. In order to better understand the adaptation process, conceptualize cases, and provide the most effective services to college students with disabilities, it is important for researchers to test comprehensive models specifically designed to aid in the interpretation of illness-induced interference. Similarly, counselors need to understand and implement empirically supported interventions, techniques and related strategies to assist individuals with disabilities in the transition to higher education.

Currently, there is a dearth of information pertaining to the adjustment of young people that can be applied to college students with chronic illness and disabilities. Additionally, theories within the rehabilitation, quality of life, and counseling literature are used to translate theory into practice. After describing the nature of

transitions individuals face upon entering college, discussing current legislative policies, and examining identity formation, this article provides an overview of the illness intrusiveness model and theoretical framework for CBT. Next, the article offers strategies for implementing an integrated model, including elements of illness intrusiveness and CBT, with the college population. Treatment strategies and intervention techniques are also described. Finally, accommodations, the importance of social support, and future directions are addressed.

Identity Formation and College Transition

Identity formation typically continues during the late teens and early 20s (Luyckx, Schwartz, Soenens, Vansteenkiste, & Goossens, 2010), which also is the time when youth attend or transition to higher education. During this time, the individual is still a child on one hand, yet an adult on the other hand. According to Wright (1983), this creates an overlapping situation in which the adolescent with the disability is not only struggling with the problematic overlap of "child" and "adult," but also that of "normal" and "disabled. …

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