The team at Melbourne Psycho-oncology Service are experienced in a range of evidence based therapeutic interventions and will tailor the approach to the presenting issue and the needs and strengths of the client. Given the complex needs of people with a cancer diagnosis a range or combination of interventions may be indicated.
Below are some of the common therapeutic interventions used
Supportive psychotherapy encourages the expression of emotion, validates individual experience, provides support through empathic listening and encouragement, utilises information provision and highlights strengths of the individual and encourages the use of adaptive coping.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) aims to identify negative emotions, behaviours and thoughts (cognitions) and ways of replacing them with more effective ones. It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, sleep and pain. The therapist and client work together as a team to identify and solve problems, challenge maladaptive thought processes and reframe unhelpful attitudes and beliefs. Active problem solving is helpful in situations where there are high-levels of uncertainty and the need for complex decisions to be made. These strategies reduce anxiety and increase confidence in decision making and give patients and their families an increased sense of control and mastery. The psychologists at Melbourne Psycho-oncology Service use relaxation skills training and guided imagery as part of cognitive behavioural approach to reduce distress, anxiety and panic in individuals living with uncertainty post their cancer diagnosis.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) focuses on accepting unpleasant thoughts as part of who we are and letting thoughts come and go through observation rather than engagement. ACT involves the acceptance of what is out of the individual’s personal control, while committing to control whatever is in their personal control. It involves the clarification of what is truly important and meaningful i.e. values and then use that knowledge to guide, inspire and motivate the person to change life for the better. A range of psychological skills such as mindfulness are used to effectively deal with painful thoughts and feelings.
Mindfulness-based approaches are non-judgemental, focus attention in the present moment, and increase awareness (Kabat-Zinn, 1994). While mindfulness approaches originated in the Buddhist tradition, they have been used in western psychology for over 20 years and in psycho-oncology for around 15 years. The therapists at Melbourne Psycho-oncology Service are experienced in mindfulness interventions and teach mindfulness meditation to assist the individual to stay in the now and move away from engaging with the constant stream of thought present in everyone’s mind.
Existential and meaning based therapeutic interventions are based on the work of Viktor Frankl. These therapies follow Frankl’s central theme that life has meaning, under all circumstances and aim to challenge individuals to find meaning through suffering, work and love. The therapists at Melbourne Psycho-oncology Service use a series of techniques to help the person find meaning in life that is unique to them at this unique moment of their life. Techniques such as positive reappraisal, benefit finding and the revision of beliefs / goals are used.
Issues with sleep are common among those having treatment for cancer and include difficulty getting to sleep and staying a sleep. Using a cognitive approach the team of therapists at Melbourne Psycho-oncology Service teach sleep hygiene strategies and specific relaxation and mindfulness interventions to improve both quality and the amount of sleep.
Clinical hypnosis can be used in a cancer setting to assist with treatment side effects such as nausea, pain and sleep disturbance. It has a role in the management of needle phobia and other anxiety disorders and can be used to assist with psychotherapy in those with depression.
APPOINTMENTS 0413 560 719