Sunday, September 23, 2012

Psychotherapy: Life Enhancing Treatment for Cancer Patients

This following is a guest post submitted to me. Enjoy!

If someone has just been diagnosed with cancer, chances are their life has been on a whirlwind of emotions ranging from concern, fear, panic and hope. Psychotherapy is a common treatments that can help these cancer patients regain some control in their lives. By teaching them healthy coping skills, psychotherapy helps patients respond to their cancer challenges with strength and courage.

What is Psychotherapy? According to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, psychotherapy is a general term for addressing mental or emotional health issues. During psychotherapy, patients talk with a psychologist or other health professional. Therapy sessions enable them to learn more about their cancer as well as their thoughts, feelings, moods and behaviors toward the disease. Psychotherapy is known by many different names: counseling, therapy, talk therapy, psychosocial therapy and psychotherapeutic treatment. It offers several different approaches to changing the way patients think, feel and behave. The right approach depends on the individual situation.

Benefits of Psychotherapy - Psychotherapy cannot cure cancerous tumors, nor can it replace conventional medical treatments. The American Cancer Society says no research can demonstrate that it improves the cancer survival rate. Nevertheless, psychotherapy can be very helpful for treating mental health problems whether someone is facing malignant mesothelioma or treatable skin cancer. The most important benefit for cancer patients is the ability of psychotherapy to improve their quality of life. Studies have shown it to be highly effective for reducing the anxiety, depression and fear that often accompanies physical cancer symptoms. Psychotherapy teaches patients to cope with their emotions and other changes that occur along the cancer journey. It helps them find the inner strength they need to fight their disease and enjoy a fuller life. This is important whether a patient is undergoing skin cancer treatments or palliative care for advanced mesothelioma.

Psychotherapy Approaches- Many patients seek individual therapy for the one-on-one relationship they develop with a therapist. Others prefer couples or family therapy, which helps everyone affected by cancer. Group therapy allows several patients to meet together to discuss their common experiences and concerns. It is important to note that psychotherapy groups are not self-help support groups. Professional therapists who guide the discussions and teach coping skills manage them. However, group therapy is like a support group in that it provides help and encouragement for a close group of patients as they learn to manage their individual cancer experiences.

Psychotherapy Risks - According to the Mayo Clinic, there is very little risk involved in psychotherapy. The treatment can make some patients uncomfortable at times since it often explores painful emotions. However, the coping skills taught in psychotherapy can help patients manage their cancer as well as other situations that may arise in the future. Although psychotherapy cannot cure cancer, it can potentially bring a patient some piece of mind during a trying time. If talking to a specialist can ease some worry whether it may be during your mesothelioma treatment, breast cancer diagnosis or even while you are battling your leukemia chemo, why not give it a shot? Talk to someone who not only cares but can help you and keep on fighting.

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