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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 43

of 'Overview of spirituality in palliative care'

Cancer and the experience of meaning: a group psychotherapy program for people with cancer.
Greenstein M, Breitbart W
Am J Psychother. 2000;54(4):486.
Cancer illness affects people in many ways, physical, financial, and existential. In this paper, we describe a proposed group intervention for individuals with advanced disease who want help finding a sense of meaning at this critical juncture in their lives. This intervention has a brief, semi-structured format, and is informed by the work of Viktor Frankl, empirical findings in the area of meaning and trauma, and the empirical findings of other group interventions for cancer patients. Individual sessions focus on different aspects of meaning, including responsibility to others, creativity, transcendence, and ascertaining one's values and priorities. Having goals on which to focus and feeling like part of a larger whole are critically important to the ability to find meaning and cope with terminal illness. Such goals may be generated by a number of sources, including connectedness with others, or a sense of the temporal continuity of one's own life despite the disruption posed by severe illness. Didactic discussions and experiential exercises help to facilitate exploration of these various elements in group members' lives. The finite structure of the intervention may also highlight these issues, as people who are faced with similar issues work together in a limited time frame in order to accomplish the goals they set out for themselves.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA. mg@panix.com