Group Therapy for Cancer Patients: A Research-Based Handbook of Psychosocial Care

Group Therapy for Cancer Patients: A Research-Based Handbook of Psychosocial Care

Group Therapy for Cancer Patients: A Research-Based Handbook of Psychosocial Care

Group Therapy for Cancer Patients: A Research-Based Handbook of Psychosocial Care

Synopsis

Speigel (psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine) was the first to demonstrate that group support for cancer patients results in significantly enhanced survival times and in measurably greater quality of life -- less anxiety, less depression, and half as much pain. In this book he and Classen (psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Stanford University) articular the principles of conducting supportive-expressive group treatment with the medically ill. They describe the rationale and practical tools for constructing and facilitating therapy groups. They also address priorities for living and fears of dying, strategies for symptom-control, and other matters which arise in support groups.

Excerpt

This book is more about living with cancer than dying of it. We have found in twenty years of working with the medically ill that facing fears rather than avoiding them reduces distress in the long run. Much of the work described here involves confronting the threat of death head-on, as an opportunity to reassess life, master fears, reorder priorities, revise relationships, and get the most out of the time that remains. There is no reason to expect cancer patients to be prepared to do this on their own.

The better we get at transforming terminal illnesses such as cancer and heart disease into chronic ones, the more people there will be who live with serious illness. Ultimately, however, the death rate will always be one per person; sooner or later, each of us will confront our own mortality and stand to benefit from the mobilization of social support and emotional comfort that can come from a well-structured support group.

In earlier times, life was shorter, the ravages of infectious disease were more widespread, and no institutions separated us from the sick and dying. Today, we hide death. We have constructed a world as far removed from threat as possible. We send terminally ill people to hospitals and sneak them out of their rooms in disguised gurneys when they die; many adults have little idea of what the dying process is like.

There is a kind of security in the mundane, which we nourish, yet somehow people who have been given a life-transforming diagnosis such as that of cancer are expected to know what to do. Imagine being taken away from the familiar and affirming worlds of family, friends, and work and becoming a stranger in a strange land, awaiting test results, reading stale magazines in waiting rooms, exposing your deepest concerns to relative strangers. Sleep is disrupted, energy declines, and fear replaces the customary shield of personal invulnerability. Factor in the threat to mortality, the possible loss of . . .

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