The Role of Counselling in Cancer Treatment

Posted on:13,Nov'16

Posted by: CancerClinics

Tags: Cancer Awareness


Counselling is formally defined as professional assistance or guidance to help resolve any psychological issues. A counsellor is a qualified professional and although we depend on friends in our everyday lives, a friend cannot be called a counsellor.

Why is Counselling Essential?

Owing to the morbidity of the disease & prolonged period of treatment, patients get very overwhelmed by cancer. It is a life changing disease that alters you physically, emotionally and in many cases financially. A non-exhaustive list of reasons why cancer causes emotional stress is:

• Cancer treatment has an uncertain outcome
• The nature and period of treatment makes it very expensive and few patients have sufficient insurance to cover everything
• Usually patients & family members have to understand and choose treatment options increasing the pressure on the right path to choose

Owing to a situation of high pressure, every cancer patient goes through a wide range of emotions. The denial, sadness, anxiety & depression over an extended period of time take a toll on the emotional health of the individual. This also indirectly negatively impacts treatment outcome since statistically better treatment outcome is related to the extent of participation that the patient has in making decisions related to treatment.

So, it is essential that one seek professional help while dealing with cancer. It should be an important part of the entire treatment process.

How Does Counselling Help?

Fundamentally, counselling can help you recognize that you will go through changes, physically & emotionally and prepare you to handle the unexpected. Different stages of cancer bring about different symptoms & side effects. A counsellor helps you understand & deal with these changes better.

• Counselling helps you cope with the diagnosis of cancer & its uncertain outcome better
• A counsellor works with you to identify ways in which you could manage the treatment period well
• After the completion of treatment, a counsellor supports you to help rehabilitate into regular life

In a nutshell, counselling gives you an avenue to deal with your emotions better, and helps you connect better with family & friends.

Who is a Counsellor?

• Medical/Oncology Social Worker: By definition, they are do not come with a medical background, but owing to their experience, they understand the nature of cancer as a disease. They speak with you to understand your concerns and help you cope with the diagnosis & treatment situation better.

• Psychologist: A psychologist is a licensed counsellor with an educational background in psychology. They speak with you to understand specific problems, & often look at behavioural issues. They also work with you to offer specific ways of coping with individual situations.

• Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has specialized in psychiatry. A psychiatrist is the only person who can prescribe medications to deal with emotional health issues.

All three of them are referred to as psychotherapists. However, each one of them has a different role to play in dealing with issues of mental health & emotional wellness.

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