crisis_breast_cancer - Clinical Social Work Journal Vol 19...

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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 ABSTRACT: 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 health. 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 293 1991 Human Sciences Press, Inc.
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294 CLINICAL SOCIAL WORK JOURNAL 1982,1 since then 18 groups have functioned. In the course of the work with them the team of social workers designed a therapy model, which is described in detail in this article. Crisis Intervention through Group Therapy In a situation of "Intervention through group therapy" a group of unacquainted and unrelated individuals meet with the therapist in or- der to gain an understanding of the stress situation of each. The aim of the treatment is to make the group members more aware of the diffi- culties with which they must cope. The treatment focuses on the day-to- day problems that worry the group members and about which they seek help. The individuals in the group discuss their ability to manage their situation and support systems. Together they examine what is currently taking place and what prevents them from functioning as they would like. The members soon become actively involved in offering each other assistance and support. By guiding the conversation, the social worker actively and directly assist the participants in the discussion to focus on the problem. The social worker must sense the nonverbal messages of
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crisis_breast_cancer - Clinical Social Work Journal Vol 19...

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