Mind-Body Medicine: Therapies
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Your mind-body medicine plan
If you have been told there is no hope, it can be difficult to regain the motivation you need to fight cancer. The mind-body team strives to move you from a state of despair to a place of neutrality. The idea is that a neutral attitude is better than a poor attitude. Your mind-body therapist will recommend specific mind-body tools and techniques to help you reach a place of acceptance and a state of relaxation, balance and peace.
Mind-body medicine can help you direct your energies toward healing and health as you undergo conventional cancer treatments. The mind-body team is also available as a resource to CTCA staff members to help reduce stress and increase well being so they can take better care of you.
Mind-body medicine therapies
The following are some of the mind-body techniques Eastern's Mind-Body Medicine Department provides to you and your family:
Psychotherapy: Individual, couples, family, and group counseling
The mind-body team offers individual, couples, family, and/or group counseling sessions. These private or group therapy sessions can help you and/or your family members improve coping skills, regulate mood, overcome anxiety and depression, and enjoy life. We also provide therapy sessions with children as well.
In addition, the mind-body team is present throughout the hospital to talk with you. “When patients see us again, they make an association. Your own presence becomes their calm. It’s a neat phenomenon,” says Roth.
The mind-body team also attends weekly patient focus groups. During these meetings, you and your caregivers can voice your thoughts, questions and concerns with the hospital staff. This open forum allows you to talk about your concerns so we can promptly resolve any issues and ensure you receive the highest quality care possible.
Mind-body support groups for caregivers
The daily struggle caregivers face in caring for a loved one with cancer can be overwhelming. Often, caregivers feel alone and unprepared for this new role, which can be both physically and emotionally draining. At CTCA, we understand how important your caregiver’s well being is to you.
“Certainly, with mind-body medicine, we recognize the systemic component that illness has in a family. It is not something that the person experiences in isolation. We know there is significant stress on the caregivers as well and we want to help them too,” says Roth.
The mind-body team is here to nurture and support your caregivers so they can continue to take good care of you. The mind-body support group for caregivers is an opportunity for your caregivers to share with each other, learn coping strategies, problem solve, and reduce stress. In addition, all mind-body services provided to you are available to your caregivers as well.
Relaxation and guided imagery training
Mind-body techniques, like relaxation and guided imagery training, can help you better cope while receiving chemotherapy and/or before a surgical procedure or radiation treatment. Techniques may help you deal with pain, nausea, and anxiety, as well as contribute to your peace of mind, increase your enjoyment, and create feelings of being in control.
Your mind-body therapist will help you learn mental and physical relaxation through progressive relaxation techniques and guided imagery.
Guided imagery, or visualization, uses the imagination to create sights, sounds, smells, or other sensations to create a deep sense of comfort, relaxation and nurturance. You can use guided imagery to envision yourself responding to treatment and experiencing a desirable outcome. For instance, you may visualize in your mind the tumor being destroyed.
“Guided imagery uses their mind to get them to a place of peace and of feeling safe and secure,” says Roth.
The diagnosis of cancer, the side effects of cancer treatment, and all the other changes taking place in your life can make this time especially stressful. There are many physical, behavioral, emotional, cognitive and spiritual symptoms that occur when you experience stress.
The mind-body team holds a stress solutions class to help you and your family members cope with stress so you can focus on healing. You can learn methods and techniques for self comfort, stress reduction, and how to get more enjoyment out of your life.
Your mind-body therapist will also provide techniques like charting to help you identify stressful events and your reactions to them. They’ll use this information to recommend stress management interventions.
According to the team, the reduction of stress may correlate with better immune function, which is essential for people fighting cancer. Your mind-body therapist incorporates stress management in your overall cancer treatment plan.
Laughter is a wonderful stress reliever and a great relationship builder. Laughter, or humor, therapy is the use of laughter to stimulate the circulatory system, immune system, and other systems in the body. Laughter therapy can help provide pain relief, encourage relaxation, reduce stress, and improve quality of life.
The mind-body team holds a laughter club once a week. The class is based on laughter as a physical exercise and aims to help you use and enjoy laughter as a tool for healing. Learn more about the healing power of laughter.
Pain is an important example of the relationship among the mind, body and spirit. When your body feels pain, your thoughts and emotions get aroused. Pain may cause anxiety and depression, which may make the pain more intense. Mind-body techniques can help reduce pain so you have more energy to focus on healing.
Your mind-body therapist will collaborate regularly with your pain specialist to help reduce your pain with non-pharmacological interventions. The mind-body team will also educate you about the effects of pain on energy, relationships, and the immune system.
Energy therapies: Reiki therapy, Qi Gong, and Yoga
Energies therapies, such as Reiki therapy, Qi Gong and Yoga, can help promote relaxation and reduce stress and tension. For example, Reiki therapy involves balancing energy by placing hands on or near the body. This gentle, hands-on practice may help to balance the body’s energy, strengthen its ability to heal, reduce stress, reduce physical discomfort, and increase feelings of well-being.
Throughout your cancer treatment, the mind-body team also offers additional classes on various topics, including managing your emotions. Your mind-body therapist may also encourage you to use creative outlets, such as art, music, dance, poetry. These therapeutic activities can help you express your emotions, increase self-awareness, and better cope during your cancer care.