What are Counselling Services?
The counselling services of the Oncology Centre consist of individual and/or family sessions with patients and their relatives and friends. Following an initial assessment of the required support, the patient may also, if deemed necessary, be referred to other mental health professionals. Collaboration with the mental health services of the associations is very close and ongoing. Everything that is discussed with the psychologist is completely confidential. The psychologist does not provide medical information.
Psychological effects of cancer
Each individual and each family react in a very personal way and gather up all their strength to adjust to the changes brought about by the diagnosis of a disease such as cancer. For the person concerned, as well as for the relatives and friends, this “journey” often causes feelings of sadness, anger, fear and anxiety, which they can either manage or “tolerate”, or which may lead to feelings of isolation, solitude and utter helplessness. The feelings vary and often alternate throughout the experience.
Psychological changes affect all aspects of life. Some patients may experience changes in their body image, which could be small, e.g. a change in taste, but also major, such as mutilation (mastectomy).
Some people, either patients or caregivers, experience changes in their professional life and are confined at home, while others may feel disappointed about spending less time with their children because of their hospitalisation or the side effects of the treatment. Changes may also occur in our relations with our significant others, as we try to communicate difficult emotions.
Issues of communication with our loved ones also arise as the whole family tries to adjust to the new situation. Discussing the issues with the psychologist may be effective in helping patients and their relatives and friends draw personal strength and enhance their relations, leading to improved psychological adjustment to this experience.
Counselling support for caregivers
The cancer experience affects not only the patient but also relatives and friends. Research has shown that in their endless struggle to offer their loved one emotional and practical support, caregivers may often effectively hide their own psychological and other needs. Having this in mind, counselling support is also available to caregivers, who may contact the counselling service, either on their own and/or with the patient.
Why should I see a psychologist? – The role of counselling support
Contact with an expert in mental health should not be a taboo subject for people experiencing cancer. It does not necessarily relate to psychiatric disorders, such as depression or stress disorders. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, when referring specifically to the psychological effects of cancer, we mostly use the term “psychological distress”, which is defined as follows:
“A multifactorial, unpleasant emotional experience of a psychological (cognitive, behavioural, emotional), social and/or spiritual nature, that may interfere with the ability to cope effectively with cancer, its physical symptoms and its treatment. Distress extends along a continuum, ranging from common normal feelings of vulnerability, sadness and fears, to problems that can become disabling, such as depression, anxiety, panic, social isolation and existential and spiritual crisis.”
How can I make an appointment?
You can ask your doctor for a direct referral or call 22847406 to make an appointment.
Questions frequently asked by patients and caregivers:
Patients and their families manage their experience with the disease in different ways, depending on their environment, the people around them, their personality traits, their personal values and other factors. Nonetheless, the questions they ask the psychologist are common and arise from their needs, which vary in each phase of the disease.
The most frequently asked questions, the replies to which may vary depending on the patient, are the following:
- Shock, why do I feel like this is happening to someone else?
- How will I speak to my children?
- What will I say at work?
- How will my friends react towards me?
- What does the disease mean? What do the things that the doctor is telling me mean?
- What more can I do to help my loved one that is sick, both emotionally and practically?
- How can I deal with the sadness, the anger, the changes in my body, the loss of my hair?
- How can I tolerate the mental and physical fatigue from the side effects?
- How can I regulate my everyday life so that I can be more functional even if I am receiving treatment?
Completion of treatment:
- Fear of a possible relapse. What will happen now that I don’t do chemotherapy anymore?
- Why is the disease back?
- How can I find the strength to deal with this again?
- From where can I draw strength to continue to keep my faith?
Deterioration of the disease:
- How will the family prepare based on its principles and values?
- Management of mourning.