When it comes to cancer, emotional healing is just as important as physical healing. Diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, many patients and families dealing with cancer come to terms with their situation in unique and varied ways.
To provide meaningful and effective support, mental health professionals must understand the challenges and opportunities the illness presents, and gain insight into the variety of experiences cancer patients may have.
Utilizing Psychotherapy with Cancer Patients
For mental health care providers, a key component of working with cancer patients is helping them develop self-understanding and enhanced coping strategies while finding new meaning in their experience. To effectively receive support, it’s important for cancer patients to recognize and accept the range of emotions associated with the experience of cancer, from anger and fear to sorrow, hope, and courage. Psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy that focus on identifying and processing emotions surrounding the diagnosis can help patients accomplish this.
Crafting Existential Narratives to Help Struggling Patients
One way to assist cancer patients in navigating their illness is to help them explore essential questions about death, freedom, and meaning. By utilizing reflective exercises to craft these “existential narratives”, patients can better understand themselves, their fears, their hopes, and their coping mechanisms. This insight into how their illness fits into their larger sense of self can enable them to begin finding meaning in their experience.
Respecting Each Patient’s Unique Experience
At the end of the day, mental health professionals must understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to understanding and treating people with cancer. Each person’s experience is unique, and it’s our responsibility as mental health care providers to train ourselves to deliver compassionate and unbiased support that will help patients explore and embrace their narratives. By recognizing and embracing the strength and courage of patients navigating the experience of cancer, we can help them find meaning and healing in the face of hardship.
Discover more about how therapy can provide strength and support for people impacted by cancer. Learn about our therapeutic services for cancer patients and families.
May 12, 2023
3 mins read