Resources for Patients and their Families

Counseling Resources

Counseling Resources

The emotional effects of cancer are many. A plethora of emotional issues plague the newly-diagnosed cancer victim and many stay with him/her during the duration of the disease. Loved ones are bothered by a variety of emotions as well, contemplating how they will cope with the disease of their treasured friend or family member, especially when the prognosis is not as they would hope, as it is many cases of patients battling mesothelioma.

Many individuals who are dealing with cancer – whether directly or indirectly – believe they can handle the emotions that come with the disease. Others believe it is a sign of weakness to ask for help in combating these feelings and learning to take them in stride. The truth is, however, that nearly everyone facing such a difficult disease like malignant mesothelioma needs emotional support now and then and, sometimes, the love of family members and friends just isn’t enough. It’s often necessary to seek the services of a professional counselor.

Typical Emotions Associated with Cancer

When cancer becomes a reality, most victims of the disease make their way through myriad different emotions. Many experience denial upon first hearing their diagnosis. Others report a feeling of disbelief and the inability to accept that this is happening to them. In many cases, the patient is angry and looks to place the blame for their disease on something or someone they feel is responsible. Others feel guilt. It’s also not unusual for anxiety and depression to set in after the initial shock has disappeared, particularly among patients battling mesothelioma disease.

A counselor who is experienced in working with cancer patients and their loved ones knows how to address all of these issues. However, it is necessary for the person who is seeking counseling to be honest about their feelings so that the treatment can be geared towards settling these emotions. It’s also necessary for the person seeking counseling to find a counselor with whom they feel comfortable and someone who they trust.

Finding a Suitable Counselor

These days, many hospitals or cancer centers boast multi-disciplinary groups of professionals who work with each patient to ensure they are getting the best treatment and support available. This includes mental health support. Many doctors suggest that their patients take time to speak to a counseling professional, be it a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other professional counselor. Hence, to find help in dealing with the emotional strains of cancer, a good place to start is with the hospital or practice in which you are being treated.

If there are no counseling services for cancer patients in your hospital, ask your oncologist or other medical team member for the name of a psychologist or counselor in your town or not far from your home.

In many instances, cancer victims and their families turn to trusted religious leaders for counseling at this difficult time in their lives. Clergy members can address the often difficult questions a patient has about faith (or loss of it) and can certainly help with end-of-life issues for those who need help sorting them out. These type of services are popular with patients and loved ones of those battling mesothelioma cancer.

What Kind of Counseling is Best?

Counseling services come in all shapes and sizes and which type the patient chooses will depend on what kind of support they seek or what kind of questions they need answered.

Most organized counseling programs designed specifically for cancer patients offer individual counseling for patients only, individual counseling for family members, or family counseling in which everyone can take part together. Often, experts stress, a cancer patient prefers to meet with the counselor by themselves before making a commitment to meet with family members. Some patients may never want to participate in family counseling. That’s okay. It’s the patient’s right to decide with whom they will share their feelings.

When emotional issues become overwhelming, it may be necessary for the patient to seek the services of a licensed psychiatrist, who is able to prescribe medications for problems such as severe depression or anxiety, common in cancer victims. Family members should be on the lookout for signs of these disorders (such as lingering, overwhelming sadness or severe anxiety) and help secure the services of a psychiatrist when necessary. Stress and depression can severely shorten the life of a cancer patient. A positive outlook, on the other hand, is known to play a large role in recovery.

For those who can’t afford the services of any kind of counselor, a call to a local mental health services office can often result in finding free or reduced cost counseling for cancer patients who need emotional support but lack insurance coverage or other funds to cover the cost.



Counseling Services, Inc.

National Institute of Mental Health

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