Clinical Social Work Journal
Vol. 19, No. 3, Fall 1991
MODEL FOR CRISIS INTERVENTION
THROUGH GROUP THERAPY FOR WOMEN
WITH BREAST CANCER
Ora Gilbar, PhD
This paper describes a model for crisis intervention through
group therapy for women with breast cancer. The group sessions, conducted by a
multidisciplinary team, are part of the Linn Clinic's post-operative treatment.
The discussions using a holistic approach, helped the women to cope more effec-
tively with the disease, the trauma of the operation, and with the chemotherapy
or radiation treatment. The women learn that they can do much to regain their
Many studies have investigated the psychosocial aspects of how
women suffering from breast cancer cope with their illness (Asken,
1978; Meyerowitz and Sparks, 1979; Wellisch, 1981). According to Co-
hen and Lazarus (1979) cancer is an ongoing event of stress that begins
with the appearance of the first symptoms and continues with the physi-
ological tests leading to diagnosis, the surgery, the chemotherapy or ra-
diation treatments, and the medical follow-up. At each stage the patient
senses a threat to life, to wholeness of body, to self-perception, to mental
balance, and social functioning.
Clinical and experimental experience has shown that the most diffi-
cult stage facing the cancer patient after breast surgery is that of the
chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy (Meyerowitz and Spark, 1979).
Several studies have also indicated a connection between mental state
and time of survival in breast cancer patients (Hislop, Waxler et al.,
1987, Levey, Lee et. al., 1988). For this reason the social workers at the
Oncological Institute at the Linn Clinic in Haifa, Israel decided to form
groups of post-mastectomy patients when they came to the institute for
continuation of medical treatment. These groups were first formed in
1991 Human Sciences Press, Inc.