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Mind-Body Medicine

mind-body medicine
"We have found that everyone going through the cancer journey experiences some stress. Stress over time can compromise one's immune system. That’s why we're here in the Mind-Body Medicine Department. We can help people manage and reduce stress related to the cancer journey."

-Dr. Katherine Puckett, National Director of Mind-Body Medicine

Our department

The Mind-Body Medicine Department at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) supports you and your family before, during and after cancer treatment.

Our mind-body therapists understand the powerful connection that exists between the mind, body and spirit, between stress and illness, and between health and hope. We work with you to provide practices that promote health, wholeness and quality of life.

Mind-body services

All of our mind-body services are available to patients, caregivers and their families:

  • Individual, couples and family counseling: A mind-body therapist schedules at least one visit with every in-patient to introduce the options available in this department, such as cancer support groups, counseling and individual therapy services. It’s your decision if you would like to continue meeting with a therapist.
  • Guided imagery: This is a relaxation technique that teaches patients to use positive mental images to manage stress and physical discomfort. Guided imagery can be used to help cancer patients deal with their pain, nausea and anxiety, and also to support the immune system.
  • Deep breathing exercises: Mind-body therapists work with patients on an individual basis to teach deep breathing as a relaxation and stress-management technique.
  • Laughter therapy: These sessions provide a safe place where patients can laugh. Research has shown that this type of mind-body medicine can reduce stress, improve pain and balance blood pressure.
  • Stress management: Techniques and classes helps patients and their loved ones learn methods for self comfort and stress reduction.

Our mind-body therapists work closely with your entire cancer treatment team and are here to support you in making ongoing care decisions. In addition, they can connect you with qualified practitioners, support groups and counseling services in your area once you return home.

The mind-body medicine team at Midwestern

Led by National Director of Mind-Body Medicine Katherine Puckett, Ph.D., the mind-body medicine team at CTCA at Midwestern Regional Medical Center (Midwestern) is comprised of licensed psychologists, licensed professional counselors, licensed clinical social workers, and Reiki master practitioners.

“We put the patient in the driver’s seat as often as possible,” Dr. Puckett says. She emphasizes that there is no set agenda for each counseling session. “We let the patient or caregiver decide what it is that we’re going to discuss and deal with in each session,” she adds.

Dr. Puckett says CTCA patients value being truly listened to and taken seriously when they participate in the counseling sessions. “There aren’t many occasions in our lives when we get the opportunity to sit with someone who’s just there to listen, hear us and really get to know us in a deep way,” she adds. “We can offer that to people, and in many respects, it’s a unique part of our role.”

Animal-assisted therapy

Tori, a sweet-natured and loving Australian Labradoodle, has joined the mind-body team as Midwestern’s certified therapy dog. In addition to being thoroughly screened for temperament and health, Tori has graduated from a series of obedience classes and completed her therapy dog certification.

As part of Midwestern’s animal-assisted therapy program, Tori visits the hospital four days a week. She provides patients and their families with comfort, relief and distraction from pain, discomfort and stress. She is always accompanied by Cindy Ingram, her trainer, handler and pet partner.

Patients interested in spending time with Tori must meet specified health criteria and be cleared by their oncologist to receive animal-assisted therapy. Dr. Puckett notes: “Our patients’ health is first and foremost. That’s why we individually evaluate each patient to ensure that a visit from Tori is appropriate in their particular phase of treatment.”

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