About The Book

Group Therapy for Cancer Patients
presents the rationale, methods, and results of intensive supportive care for those with cancer. Based upon more than 20 years of clinical and research experience at Stanford, the authors, a psychiatrist and a psychologist, review the types of distress experienced by

Group Therapy for Cancer Patients
is...a guide for putting the caring back into
health care

cancer patients, and describe a clear method for implementing and conducting such groups. Topics explored include the rationale for group treatment among this population, principles of gathering and starting a group, and the methods for implementing and conducting such groups. Special chapters are written to cover key themes: building bonds of social support, expressing emotion, detoxifying fears of dying and death, reordering life priorities, improving family relationships, and enhancing communication with physicians. The use of hypnosis and other symptom-control strategies for pain and anxiety in the group setting is presented. Special groups for family members are described, along with perspectives on dealing with problem patients. Outcome data on the effectiveness of this Supportive/Expressive approach and other group
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intervention programs are reviewed. This book is both evidence-based and steeped in many years of clinical experience. Clinical examples are interposed with clear general principles. The book is rooted both in the empirical tradition of group therapy research started by Irvin Yalom, and in the belief that caring and meaningful social support is a critical ingredient in medical practice. Group Therapy for Cancer Patients is intended to be a guide for putting the caring back into health care.

Psychiatrist David Spiegel was the first to demonstrate that group support for cancer patients results in significantly enhanced survival times and in measurably greater quality of life – less anxiety, less depression, and half as much pain. His landmark research was first published in The Lancet and later featured on Bill Moyers’ PBS series Healing and the Mind; now, with psychologist Catherine Classen, he articulates the principles of conducting supportive-expressive group treatment with the medically ill.

Because a shared intimacy with mortality creates concerns very different from those that apply in conventional group settings, Spiegel and Classen tackle priorities for living and fears of dying, strategies for symptom-control (including, hypnosis), questions like whether group members should convene in the bedroom of someone who can’t get to the regular meeting – in addition to sharing the rationale and the practical tools for constructing and facilitating therapy groups with this patient-population.

Their book is rooted in the empirically-validated conviction that meaningful social support is a vital link between medical care and disease outcome. It is at once a model, a manual for clinicians at every level, and a celebration of a kind of helping that actually helps.

—Basic Books

“A superb clinical text! Every page displays wisdom, scholarship, humanity, and enabling instruction. I believe that, for many years to come, this book will represent the gold standard for the group treatment of cancer patients.”
—Irvin D. Yalom, M.D.
Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry
Stanford University School of Medicine
“Realistic rather than idealistic, this approach will be of substantial benefit to many cancer patients. Its rich examples are humane and lucid, making the book extraordinarily useful in teaching professionals throughout the world how to provide the help it describes.”
—Mardi Horowitz, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry and Director
Center on Stress and Personality
Univeristy of California at San Francisco
“Spiegel’s work has been seminal to the acceptance and expansion of support groups for patients with cancer. It is fitting that he, with psychologist colleague Catherine Classen, has now literally ’written the book’ on how to do it-properly and well.”
—Jimmie C. Holland, M.D.
Wayne E. Chapman Chair in Psychiatric Oncology
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
“We have come a long way in understanding cancer. Because of advances in medical treatment, cancer patients can ofter be cured. But equally important are the tremendous advances in the psychological treatment of cancer–and Dr. Spiegel and his colleagues can take much of the credit for that. This eloquently written book will help mental health professionals apply the principles of supportive group therapy to their own practices. The goal is both important and, as Dr. Spiegel's own research has shown, achievable–to help patients not only live but live well with cancer.”
—Barbara K.Rimer, DPH
Director, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences
National Cancer Institute

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