Psycho-oncology is the specialty of psychology that offers support to cancer patients, their families and other professionals in the oncology team, helping to manage the changes that are generated throughout the illness. The fundamental difference between the clinical psychologist and the Psycho-oncologist is that the latter has specific knowledge about cancer, knows the specific characteristics of the disease and treatments and is trained in the most effective psychological interventions to facilitate the management of changes produced by the oncological disease.
The intervention of the psycho-oncologist depends on the evolution of the disease, however we can highlight different moments of the disease process where psycho-oncological intervention may be more necessary:
- Diagnosis: It is a moment of uncertainty where the patient and the family can feel a great psychological and emotional impact, can appear intense emotions such as fear, anger, guilt, etc. The intervention of the psycho-oncologist is focused on detecting the emotional, psychological and social needs and guiding them in their management, as well as promoting adaptive coping strategies and improving the sense of personal control.
- Treatment: The quality of life of the patient can be affected by the side effects of the treatments, fatigue, alterations in body image, vomiting, sexual dysfunctions, etc. The intervention of psycho-oncologist in this phase lies mainly in enhancing coping strategies to facilitate the adaptation of both the patient and the family. Some of the most effective interventions in this phase are: Counseling, cognitive restructuring, relaxation and mutual support groups among others.
In the Oncology Platform there is a group of people affected by cancer who meet weekly with the aim of sharing experiences about cancer and to help, through the testimony of people who have already gone through the oncological process, to start theirs own do it in the best possible way, reducing uncertainty and the feeling of loneliness.
- Disease-free phase: Frequent controls and the threat of re-presenting the disease can cause problems in the management of fear. The intervention of the psycho-oncologist focuses on providing the patient and the family with tools to adequately manage this fear by maintaining it at tolerable and adaptive levels.
- Survival. In the return to "normal" life, to everyday life, problems of adaptation may arise due to the sequelae left by the oncological process or by the internal and external changes that have occurred in the patient and also in the family. There is a before and after cancer and the psycho-oncologist can help the patient improve their resilience, that is, after the cancer the person comes out even strengthened. You can live even better after a cancer.
- Recurrence: In the event that the disease returns, a state of intense emotional shock may appear, symptoms of anxiety and depression may be present at this time. The intervention of the psycho-oncologist in this phase focuses on addressing and treating the symptoms that seem to achieve psychological adaptation to the new situation.
- End of life: In this phase, the aim is to take care of both the patient and the family. They usually appear intense emotions such as sadness, aggression, fear, etc. that generate a general worsening of the situation. The role of the psycho-oncologist in this phase focuses on contributing to maintaining and / or improving the quality of life, helping to control physical symptoms such as anxiety or pain and giving emotional support to both the patient and the family.
For all these reasons, the presence of the psycho-oncologist in the Oncology Platform is fundamental for the integral management of the patient and the family due to the changes that may be experienced in the disease process and that require a trained psychologist. and formed specifically