The Caregiving Soul:

Minisode 2: Seeking Therapeutic Support While Caregiving

Hosted by Dannelle LeBlanc, November 21, 2022

In this mini-sode, Dannelle speaks with Kylie Walker about some of the reasons to seek out therapeutic support as a caregiver. You’ll learn how to name some of the difficult emotions we experience and how to emotionally support caregivers in your life. 

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About Kylie Walker

Kylie Walker is a licensed clinical social worker in the Dallas, TX area. She is skilled in treating anxiety, depression, and adjustment to life events, including grief and loss, chronic illness and pain, and caregiver stress. In her role as a therapist in private practice she has been able to provide emotional support to clients as they provide care for their loved ones. She has also had her own experience as a caregiver for her parents, which allows her to work with her clients from a place of personal experience. 


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[00:00:06] Dannelle (Recorded): Hello and welcome to The Caregiving Soul. I’m your host, Dannelle LeBlanc. 

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[00:00:14] In celebration for National Family Caregivers Month, we’re releasing two mini-sodes focused on strategies to create empowerment in the caregiving experience. Today’s mini-sode, the 2nd in our special series, is with Kylie Walker, a licensed clinical social worker skilled in supporting caregiver wellness.  

[00:00:40] She understands what it’s like to care for family with critical health needs in her personal experience, which helps to inform and benefit her work with clients. Her insights are focused on the emotional challenges of caregiving and how therapeutic support can make a positive difference in how we experience the journey. 

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[00:01:06] Let’s dive in! 

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[00:01:10] Dannelle: In your work, Kylie, you’ve personally gone through so many of the emotional experiences that we share as caregivers. What are some of the emotional needs that you find caregivers have, and need the most help with? 

[00:01:31] Kylie: Well, feeling isolated, feelings of depression, some feelings of anxiety. I’ve had others who come in just immediately saying, “I’m just stressed. I’m overwhelmed”. Or I’ve had some even express feelings of guilt, of not feeling like they’re equipped to be able to do all the things that they would like to do.  

[00:01:54] And then some have expressed feelings of resentment and wanting to process that because maybe the person that they’re having to now become a caregiver for were never there for them in the way that they needed them to be there for them. And now they’re having to alter their lives in so many different ways, where now maybe they’re having to take time away from work, or they’re now having to divide their time between family and friends and caregiving. So, they’re changing their careers. Maybe they’re having to drop out of school because they’re having to become a caregiver. 

[00:02:33] Dannelle: I am so glad that you brought up resentment because I don’t care how much you love your family member, your loved one, your friend, the person that you are caring for, it is human. And it’s about what we do with that resentment. And so often we may feel like we can’t talk about that because then we may be perceived as being a bad person or what have you. And so, we end up internalizing that.  

[00:03:08] So, can you tell us when we feel resentment because of having to put our own personal needs, desires, goals, health, family, everything, on the back burner in order to take care of our loved one, how do you help those caregivers through that resentment? 

[00:03:33] Kylie: First, I like to make sure that they just validate their feelings, make sure they understand that, that is, those are normal emotions that they’re experiencing and then we begin to do some work around it. And maybe if they wanna talk about the reasons why they’re feeling the things that they’re feeling, and go through the history of why, we can talk about those things. But then also let’s talk about what their own values are and what’s the reason that they’re choosing to still do it anyway. So, sometimes that helps, and sometimes it helps if they’re able to delegate some of the responsibilities and realize they don’t have to do it all. 

[00:04:11] Dannelle: Can you talk a little bit more about some of the other caregiving emotions of feeling isolated, having depression, anxious, not equipped? Okay?! And not through any, you know, fault of our own. Right? 

[00:04:29] Kylie: When they’re not feeling equipped as a caregiver, sometimes I help them connect with another community for support, or just referring them to different agencies. So, it just depends on what it is that they’re needing extra support in. Like to different resources online that may be able to explain some of the things that they’re lacking in, or reminding them of different apps that are available, or different companies that can come in and provide relief. So really empowering them to seek out those resources. 

[00:05:02] Dannelle: So, there’s such huge value that we may not anticipate as caregivers in reaching out to talk to a therapist. And the value is, first of all, getting that validation around our emotions that we may not feel comfortable sharing with our loved one or other family members. And then also being directed to resources, like you mentioned. And I’d love to hear more about, Kylie, your personal experience caring for your parents and that feeling of overwhelm, and how it informs your work as a therapist? 

[00:05:47] Kylie: I guess that was one of the times where, I was seven months pregnant, when my mom, when her treatments had discontinued, and they said, “her disease now is terminal and we’re discontinuing services”. And so, we transitioned to hospice and at the time I was seven months pregnant and she moved from Mississippi to my home. So, while in a high-risk pregnancy, also having to take this role on. 

[00:06:14] So, the kitchen nook area became my husband’s new office space. His office space became her room, full of all of the equipment, the hospital bed, oxygen, side table, bedside commode, all these things, medicines everywhere. So, just transitioning all of those things. That was definitely a sacrifice. And it was something that we did. It was definitely an overwhelming experience, but it helped to have family and friends swarming, just in and out. 

[00:06:44] So, that was one of the things that really helped. And it helps me to be able to relate to my clients when I’ve experienced that. And many don’t know that I’ve experienced these things, cuz I don’t just share. I allow them to share when they come to talk to me unless they ask and then I’ll share. But otherwise, they don’t know. I’m just there to hold space for them. 

[00:07:06] Dannelle: That’s so important that you’re able to hold space for the caregivers that come to you and recognize those types of emotions, like overwhelm, or feeling isolated. It’s such a huge load emotionally for family caregivers, for professional caregivers, and frankly, there’s just not enough therapists to go around. I don’t care if everybody reached out to a therapist right now, there still wouldn’t be enough therapists to go around. So, how can the rest of us help? What are some of the ways that we all can help emotionally support caregivers in our lives? 

[00:07:54] Kylie: Well, I would say some of the things we can do is just be there. As I tell my clients sometimes listen with your eyes, your ears, and your heart. When you’re sitting with someone that you’re present with them and really just actively listening. Being non-judgmental towards them, showing empathy, and compassion. So, I think that’s helpful. And then maybe sometimes offering to sit with their loved one. There are things we can do too, you know, maybe offer to bring a meal. Send some words of encouragement some days, you know, just to do that can be helpful. 

[00:08:29] Dannelle: Sometimes it’s not about the specific action, but there’s emotional support in letting a caregiver know that they are seen – 

[00:08:40] Kylie: Mm-hmm. 

[00:08:41] Dannelle: – in whatever way. That’s the emotional support. And I’m also so glad that you brought up the importance of non-judgmental listening because human beings have different opinions about different choices.  

[00:09:00] Kylie: Right. 

[00:09:00] Dannelle: It’s so important that we can be present and listen to someone in a nonjudgmental way, and with our heart, as you said, to listen with our hearts. 

[00:09:14] One of the things that happened for me in caring for my father-in-law was that I was perceived as, and was, a strong person, that competent person, that got things done, that it would be a weakness to acknowledge that, you know what, I’m at the end of my rope. Or to feel that I can’t talk about this because nobody’s really gonna understand. It felt like no one would understand what I was talking about, that I was just complaining. And so, it would just be better just to keep it to myself. 

[00:09:55] So Lord knows I could have used somebody like you. If I had walked into your office and I told you that, how would you help me reframe that thinking? How would you help someone who was stuck in that mindset? 

[00:10:13] Kylie: I would, for one, I’d wanna validate those feelings and then I’d want to check in and see how you would be able to get some respite, because that may be true. You may be feeling exhausted and unable to go any further. And so, I would try to work with you to try to get some respite if we can. But if we can’t, then at that point, trying to see how we can, without you even leaving the house, how you can tap in internally to find some peace, find some joy, through the power of breath, through the power of reframing, taking 15 minutes, or whatever, to step away, to take some time to replenish again. 

[00:11:01] Dannelle: There’s a reason behind why we feel the way we do.  

[00:11:04] Kylie: Mm-hmm.  

[00:11:04] Dannelle: And once that’s acknowledged, then that makes room for potential solutions like the respite care, or the breath work, or taking a moment to listen to some music that fills us up. 

[00:11:23] Kylie: Mm-hmm. 

[00:11:24] Dannelle: Kylie, thank you so much for the work that you do to walk us through all of these difficult emotions in caregiving, grief, and loss. Thank you so much for joining us. 

[00:11:36] Kylie: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me Dannelle. 

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[00:11:42] Dannelle (Recorded): Thank you for joining our mini-sode with Kylie! For more information on National Family Caregivers Month, check out our show notes. 

[00:11:54] The Caregiving Soul is an Empowered Us Original presented by Good Days, hosted by me, Dannelle LeBlanc. If you liked this episode, be sure to rate and subscribe to this show wherever you get your podcasts.   

[00:12:12] And remember, the right care includes care for you.  

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