Counseling & Stress Management Research

While both genetics and environment play a large role in the development and progression of cancer, we often overlook the role of stress. For over three decades we have had ample evidence to substantiate stress as minimally a modifying variable in the development and remission of cancer (Simonton & Simonton, 1975; Eysenk 1988).  One in three cancer patients will experience significant levels of distress or meet criteria for a clinical diagnosis of an anxiety or mood related disorder, and as few as one in ten seek psychological or counseling services (Nekolaichuk, Cumming, Yushchyshyn, & Sela, 2011).

Science has shown us that identifying and exploring new self-narratives through supportive individual and group counseling  is crucial to improving one’s condition (Sluzki, 2004). Additionally, through the therapeutic relationship, group support, practicing new coping skills, and challenging old self-narratives, new cognitive development and growth occurs. When stress levels become too high , the person often conserves energy for reactive processes and not new learning. When stress levels are consistently high for prolonged periods of time a number of negative health consequences have been implied (Townsend, 2010).

Research has supported many forms of stress management and coping skills for improving the quality of life of cancer patients; such things as guided imagery, meditation, and hypnosis have shown great effectiveness in lowering stress, especially when performed in person with a trained professional (Liossi & Hatira, 2003). At The Cancer Support Center we have several options for individuals to engage in stress reducing activities. We offer free individual, couples, family, and group counseling to survivors, caretakers, children, and bereaved individuals. We regularly offer classes, workshops, and groups aimed specifically at reducing stress through art, journaling, meditation, guided imagery, hypnosis, and other mediums. We also have counseling groups for survivors, caretakers, children, and bereaved/grieving individuals.