Psychological Services For Cancer Patients
Being diagnosed with cancer has significant
affects upon both physical and mental
well being. Cancer treatment is a life-altering
ordeal that can be eased through the use of
psychological services. The Joan Karnell Cancer
Center at Pennsylvania Hospital offers a wide
range of psychological support to help patients
throughout the course of their treatment.
The team at the Joan Karnell Cancer Center excels in treating cancer
patients medically and psychologically. The psychologists have a specific
interest in treating patients with cancer. The therapists are expertly
trained in helping people of all backgrounds to ease their adjustment
into cancer care. In addition, they realize that the discovery of
cancer not only affects the patient, but family and friends as well;
therefore, individual, family and group psychotherapy services are
offered. Patients have the opportunity to talk to others with similar
illnesses and learn new coping methods in the various support groups
Individual psychotherapy is provided at no cost to patients and their
family members for the first six sessions. Many patients continue
with psychotherapy beyond that time, or they are helped in finding
a referral to another provider. In addition to providing psychotherapy,
the Joan Karnell Cancer Center has recently introduced a team of psychologists
who specialize in bereavement issues and a psychiatrist to aid with
evaluation and medical treatment of patients with specific psychological
According to Mark Moore, PhD, staff psychologist and interim Palliative
Care Program coordinator, there are a variety of stages in which
patients enter psychotherapy at the Joan Karnell Cancer Center.
Upon being diagnosed, an individual is referred to the treatment
center if they appear to be struggling or distressed.
“In addition to
the initial shock of diagnosis,
this can also be a time of
great uncertainty and confusion
for patients,” says Dr.
Moore, “and patients
need assistance to help realize
that this is manageable and
that they can get through this
During treatment, patients can feel overwhelmed as they adjust to
a new schedule, new roles at home and work, and physical side effects.
Working with a psychotherapist at this time can aid the patient in
strengthening their resilience and fostering necessary hope. After
treatment is finished, patients may, for the first time, feel the
full emotional impact of cancer and live in fear of a recurrence or
struggle to make sense of the changes that have occurred in their
life. Learning to live without fear and to construct meaning out of
one’s cancer experience can be a rewarding outcome of continued
psychotherapy at this time.
Patients are encouraged to discuss their issues and concerns with
a member of the psychology team at Pennsylvania
Hospital in order to get through this emotionally trying time. Furthermore,
Dr. Moore strongly urges those with a prior history of depression,
anxiety or substance abuse, or patients who lack motivation or zest
for life, to visit the clinic.
Changes in appetite and sleep or feelings
of terror, excessive fear, and worry are also
indicators that psychotherapy would be helpful. If patients feel suddenly
confused, have trouble thinking straight, or have thoughts of hurting
themselves or others, they should contact a psychiatrist at Pennsylvania
Cancer affects not only the physical self, but also life experiences
including work and personal relationships. The
psychotherapists at the Joan Karnell Cancer Center teach patients
that their lives can continue accordingly.