Psychotherapy is a complementary & alternative medicine which assists individuals in changing their feelings, behavior or thinking using a wide variety of approaches. Research shows psychotherapy can help cancer patients cope with the emotional aspects of the disease, but it does not show an increase of the survival rate of cancer patients.
Depression and anxiety are common in cancer patients and psychotherapy can assist in reducing the symptoms by helping patients come to terms with their illness. Psychotherapy is conducted in many forms including individual, couples or family therapy. Sessions are generally conducted at the therapist’s office but can also be held at the home or hospital. Each session lasts 45-50 minutes. The number of meetings is determined by the client and the therapist, but are generally once weekly for a short time.
Methods of psychotherapy use are varied and determined by the particular therapist.
Approaches to Psychotherapy
- Behavior modification– This therapy addresses the symptoms of the problem and involves replacing negative behavior patterns with more healthy patterns.
- Client-centered– The goal of this approach is to help patients help themselves by focusing on feelings and current experiences of the patients. The patient directs the sessions and the therapist provides empathy and support.
- Cognitive-Behavioral– This approach to therapy focuses on reprogramming harmful internal messages and creating positive internal dialogue. It often involves homework assignments and can include various forms of behavioral therapy.
- Body-oriented– This method of therapy is based on the theory emotions are held in the body and are expressed through physical restriction and tension. The therapist uses manual pressure, body movement and breathing techniques to release the held emotions.
- Psychodynamic– This approach focuses on the underlying causes of problems by uncovering connections between current emotional reactions and early childhood experiences. This method is similar to psychoanalysis and is usually a long-term form of therapy, possibly lasting several years.
Benefits of Psychotherapy
There are numerous other approaches used by therapists, but regardless of which method is used, usually the focus of psychotherapy for cancer patients is reducing depression and anxiety and assisting patients in adjusting to their illness.
Though research has not shown psychotherapy to prolong the life of a cancer patient, cancer treatment centers in the U.S. recommend all patients to be evaluated for emotional distress. It is now standard for psychotherapy to be a complementary medicine for cancer patients.
Mesothelioma and Psychotherapy
Advocates of alternative methods like psychotherapy note its ability to ease pain and other symptoms of diseases such as mesothelioma. Along with medical treatments, those patients diagnosed with mesothelioma could likely utilize therapies such as this one. In the case of mesothelioma, having a latency period of 20 to 50 years can often mean that once an individual is diagnosed, symptoms will be strong and the pain, unbearable at times. Symptom relief with alternative practices such as psychotherapy might make an individual with mesothelioma more comfortable and in some cases, healthier.