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Interventions for Clients Coping with Cancer
Interventions for Clients Coping with Cancer - 10 CEUs

Section 4
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CEU Question 4 | CE Test | Table of Contents | Cancer
Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

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On the last track we discussed awfulizing.  We discussed the progression of awfulizing through panic cognitions, the importance of clear decision making, how panic turns to awfulizing, and a stop awfulizing technique. 

On this track we will discuss how to beat cancer.  On the last track we suggested you might play the track for a client you are treating who is coping with cancer.  You might find this track beneficial, as well, for playing in an upcoming session.  The information on this track is from the City of Hope.  I find that clients coping with cancer can benefit from the City of Hope four steps to beating cancer. 

City of Hope - 4 Steps to Beating Cancer

The four steps are confront fears, take charge, know options, and fight back.  As you listen to this track, consider your client.  Which step might require more effort on your client’s part?  If, for example, your client needs more help taking charge, more information will provided later in this course regarding taking charge.

#1  Confronting Fears
First, let’s discuss confronting fears.  Cancer evokes powerful negative emotions such as fear that the client is losing control over her life and her body.  Anger that this is happening.  Depression over what must be endured.  For clients with cancer, these are all normal feelings, of course.  As you are aware clients need to know that suppressing anger and depression only serves to magnify them and will not help a client resolve these issues.  The way to confront fears is with education, understanding, faith, positive visualization, and relaxation techniques. 

When Brittany, age 38, told me about her breast cancer diagnosis, I suggested she connect with others who have been through the same experience.  Brittany later stated, “I went to the breast cancer group you suggested at the hospital.  It really helped me understand what I was really afraid of.”  What is your client’s attitude toward attending support groups?

#2  Taking Charge
Next, let’s introduce taking charge.  Later in Brittany’s therapy, I asked her who was the leader of her treatment team.  Brittany responded by saying that she believed her oncologist was the leader of the treatment team.  I stated, “The leader of your treatment team can be you.  After all, it is your treatment.  And the first rule with serious cancer is get a second opinion.” 

Would you agree that most doctors are usually happy to recommend someone?  Also, I suggested to Brittany that she take a close friend or relative with her to consultations.  I stated, “Think in advance of questions you may want to ask and have your companion take notes for review later.”  Like Brittany, most clients find it very difficult to cope with their emotions and absorb complex medical information at the same time. 

#3  Knowing Available Options
In addition to confronting fears and taking charge, third let’s discuss knowing available options.  I stated to Brittany, “Learn as much as you can about your particular kind of cancer.  I know it sounds obvious, but try to find out what the latest and most effective treatments are before you commit to a treatment.  Remember, most physicians are reluctant to change a course of therapy once you’ve started.” 

Brittany asked how she could find out more about what options were available.  Might you direct a client like Brittany to centers designated by the National Cancer Institute?  I find that centers like the City of Hope share the latest information with each other nationwide and can generally offer the newest options and most advanced treatments.

#4  Fight Back
Finally, let’s discuss the fourth step in how to beat cancer.  The fourth step is to fight back.  Brittany stated, “I feel like a victim.  How do I fight back against this thing?”  I stated, “Keep asking questions throughout treatment and don’t take anything for granted.  Make sure that you have a doctor, a hospital, and a treatment plan you feel confident in.  Don’t just take someone else’s recommendations on trust.”  The next question Brittany asked is somewhat common.  She asked, “What if I start becoming one of those obnoxious patients doctors hate to deal with?”  How might you have responded to Brittany? 

I replied, “Don’t worry about being a pest.  Experience shows that clients who are not intimidated by their disease are the ones most likely to get better.  And don’t think solely in terms of medical treatment.  You may also need help with family, financial and spiritual issues.  Above all, however, work at keeping your sense of humor.  Every day, if possible, look for a little pleasure and enjoyment to offset the hours consumed by treatment.”  Think of your Brittany.  How might your client benefit from these four steps regarding how to beat cancer?

On this track we discussed how to beat cancer.  The information on this track is from the City of Hope.  I find that clients coping with cancer can benefit from the four steps to beating cancer.  The four steps are confront fears, take charge, know options, and fight back. 

On the next track we will discuss taking charge.  I use four steps in my practice to help clients take charge.  The four steps to taking charge are defining the team leader, avoiding the surrender of leadership, using visualization to take charge, and evaluation and substitution. 

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Desautels, C., Savard, J., Ivers, H., Savard, M.-H., & Caplette-Gingras, A. (2018). Treatment of depressive symptoms in patients with breast cancer: A randomized controlled trial comparing cognitive therapy and bright light therapy. Health Psychology, 37(1), 1–13. 

Foley, E., Baillie, A., Huxter, M., Price, M., & Sinclair, E. (2010). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for individuals whose lives have been affected by cancer: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(1), 72–79. 

Gudenkauf, L. M., Antoni, M. H., Stagl, J. M., Lechner, S. C., Jutagir, D. R., Bouchard, L. C., Blomberg, B. B., Glück, S., Derhagopian, R. P., Giron, G. L., Avisar, E., Torres-Salichs, M. A., & Carver, C. S. (2015). Brief cognitive–behavioral and relaxation training interventions for breast cancer: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 83(4), 677–688. 

Steffen, L. E., Vowles, K. E., Smith, B. W., Gan, G. N., & Edelman, M. J. (2018). Daily diary study of hope, stigma, and functioning in lung cancer patients. Health Psychology, 37(3), 218–227.

Trudel-Fitzgerald, C., Tworoger, S. S., Poole, E. M., Zhang, X., Giovannucci, E. L., Meyerhardt, J. A., & Kubzansky, L. D. (2018). Psychological symptoms and subsequent healthy lifestyle after a colorectal cancer diagnosis. Health Psychology, 37(3), 207–217.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 4
What are four steps to beating cancer? To select and enter your answer go to CE Test.
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