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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

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, Chief, Division of Mind-Body Medicine

Our department

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

Our licensed 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 and your care team to provide behavioral practices designed to promote healing, reduce emotional distress and improve quality of life.

Mind-body services

Our mind-body services— all of which are available to patients, caregivers and their families—include:

  • Individual, couples and family counseling: Our mind-body therapists are available to provide a wide range of department services, including cancer support groups, counseling and individual therapy services. It is your decision if you would like to continue meeting with a therapist. Depending on your needs, we may offer strategies to help you cope with anxiety and depression, assist with family dynamics and communication, reduce stress and help you live a meaningful life during your cancer journey.
  • Guided imagery: This is a relaxation technique that teaches patients to use positive mental images to manage stress and physical discomfort. Guided imagery may be used to help cancer patients deal with their pain, nausea and anxiety.
  • 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 may reduce stress, improve pain and balance blood pressure.
  • Music therapy: Certified music therapists are available at some of our hospitals, using music to help patients address physical and emotional needs.
  • Stress management: Techniques and classes help 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 may connect you with qualified practitioners, support groups and counseling services in your area once you return home.

The mind-body medicine team at CTCA

Led by Katherine Puckett, Ph.D., Chief of the Division of Mind-Body Medicine for CTCA®, the mind-body medicine team at CTCA Chicago consists of licensed psychologists, licensed professional counselors, licensed clinical social workers, and Reiki master practitioners.

“Everyone going through a cancer journey experiences some sort of stress," Dr. Puckett says. "Stress over time can compromise the immune system. When the immune system is compromised, cancer treatment can become harder. That’s why we're here in the Mind-Body Medicine Department. Our goal is to help people better handle that stress to help them be healthier in mind, body and spirit.

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 ingramTori, a sweet-natured and loving Australian Labradoodle, is a key part of the mind-body team as our Chicago hospital 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 our hospital in Chicago'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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