Psychosocial Oncology Program

The Psychosocial Oncology Program provides psychological assessment and counseling for patients and family members suffering from the typical anxieties surrounding cancer care. Patients often need help with symptom management (fatigue, nausea, pain) and other problems, such as:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Family distress
  • Communication difficulties with the health care team

Counseling for Patients in Distress

The goal of the program is to meet a wide range of patient needs. Most cancer patients and their families do not need intensive psychosocial care, but rather supportive service provided through our volunteers and professional counselors. We are able to take care of patients who are suffering intensely, as well as those proceeding through a “normal” crisis during diagnosis and treatment. In our own studies conducted in the outpatient clinic, we have seen that the new diagnosis is extremely distressing and yet, can be alleviated by a simple orientation procedure.

Counseling Services

A total of 6 oncology counselors including doctoral level psychologists are available for counseling sessions. These services include:

  • General supportive counseling
  • Specific behavioral procedures to manage intrusive thoughts
  • Relaxation training and stress managenent
  • Guided Imagery and hypnosis

This program provides psychological screening and quality-of-life assessment for all bone marrow transplant patients prior to transplantation.

Research Component

The Psychosocial Oncology Program has developed a research/evaluation and social teaching component within the Comprehensive Cancer Center. Current protocols are designed to assess the quality of life of patients undergoing intensive treatments. The goal of this research is to improve the quality of patients during and after treatment. Teaching activities include psychosocial seminars for fellows, and lectures to first and second-year medical students on Medicine and Psychosocial and Ethical issues in Oncology. Teaching activities also include chemotherapy classes within the hospital, as well as the physician’s assistance program on issues of delivery of bad news to patients and how to deal with death and dying. The program is funded through fee-for-service activity and grants.