On the last track we discussed how to beat cancer. The steps were confront fears, take charge, know options, and fight back.
On this 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 chare, and evaluation and substitution. As you listen to this track, consider your client. How might taking charge improve how he or she copes with cancer?
4 Steps to Taking Charge
1. Defining the Team Leader
Do you recall Brittany from the last track? I had asked Brittany who was the most important person on her treatment team. Like Brittany some clients believe that it is a surgeon, oncologist, or perhaps a very helpful nurse. But no wellness team is complete without the patient. As I explained to Brittany, the most important person on the team is you. I stated, “You are the one who is ill. It is you who must work to get well again.
2. Avoiding the Surrender of Leadership
Would you agree that too often clients surrender leadership? For example, before I counseled Brittany, her treatment was not going well. Brittany stated, “My doctor keeps assuring me that he’s doing ‘all they can.’” How might you have responded to Brittany?
I stated, “It is up to you whether you accept the course of your treatment or try something else.” At a later session, Brittany stated, “I called and made an appointment at a Clinical Cancer Center that was a four hour drive from home. Doctors there recommended a different treatment program.” I complimented Brittany for personally taking charge of her treatment. She later said that was her turning point to wellness.
3. Using Visualization to Take Charge
Think of your Brittany. In addition to being her own team leade and avoiding surrendering leadership, perhaps a visualization might help your client to take charge. Eric, age 57, had prostate cancer and was trying to gain control of his treatment.
I stated to Eric, “See yourself as the manager of a baseball team. Now imagine yourself with the task of getting well. You’ll want to start with a strong pitcher. We can use that as an analogy for your doctor. Then you’ll need other team members, like a catcher, infielders, and outfielders. Equate these with specialists, technicians, family, friends, and support groups. As the manager, it is your responsibility to choose the team on the field.”
Like Eric, taking charge can be a big hurdle to many clients. Would you agree that taking charge is a learned attitude? As you know, traditionally, consumers play a passive role in the health care system, going along with whatever doctors and hospitals recommend. Eric stated, “We’re encouraged to consent to rather than challenge recommendations.” Clearly, this attitude will not work if your client is to be the leader of his medical care team. How might you’re client decide to take charge?
4. Evaluation and Substitution
Let’s now look at evaluation and substitution. You might consider discussing with your client how he or she can take charge. I find that the first step is to evaluate the team. Your client might ask, ‘Who is managing this team? Who are the players? Is it a one person show, when many more people could be helping? Are the team members working for me or do some seem to be working against me? Brittany had remarked, “Every time I go to the doctor, I feel like I am in enemy territory.” If your client feels that way, might it be a signal that he or she needs to make a substitution?
On this track we have discussed 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 chare, and evaluation and substitution.
On the next track we will discuss re-forming negative emotions. Three methods used to re-form negative emotions are determine if the emotion is realistic and appropriate, limit the duration of the unpleasant emotion, and control the intensity of the unpleasant emotion.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Merluzzi, T. V., Philip, E. J., Heitzmann Ruhf, C. A., Liu, H., Yang, M., & Conley, C. C. (2018). Self-efficacy for coping with cancer: Revision of the Cancer Behavior Inventory (Version 3.0). Psychological Assessment, 30(4), 486–499.
Rottmann, N., Hansen, D. G., Larsen, P. V., Nicolaisen, A., Flyger, H., Johansen, C., & Hagedoorn, M. (2015). Dyadic coping within couples dealing with breast cancer: A longitudinal, population-based study. Health Psychology, 34(5), 486–495.
Schepers, S. A., Russell, K., Berlin, K. S., Zhang, H., Wang, F., & Phipps, S. (2020). Daily mood profiles and psychosocial adjustment in youth with newly diagnosed cancer and healthy peers. Health Psychology, 39(1), 1–9.
Stanton, A. L., Wiley, J. F., Krull, J. L., Crespi, C. M., & Weihs, K. L. (2018). Cancer-related coping processes as predictors of depressive symptoms, trajectories, and episodes. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86(10), 820–830.
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