Cancer has become a plague of the 21st century as millions of people of different ages die due to this health condition. The existing types of treatment are associated with cancer patients’ considerable emotional distress and even suffering. Minorities and economically underprivileged groups tend to face even a heavier burden. Moreover, the survivors of this disease also need support as their experiences are often overwhelming.
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These people feel that no one can understand them and provide the support they really need due to their exposure to near-death experiences. One of the most effective ways to assist cancer patients and cancer survivors to cope with their emotional, as well as psychological and even physical, issues is the participation in a support group (Bouma et al., 2015). This paper dwells upon some peculiarities of managing a support group consisting of young adult cancer patients and cancer survivors.
One of the major roles of the facilitator is to develop an appropriate atmosphere that will help the participants to share their views and emotions freely. Pomery, Schofield, Xhilaga, and Gough (2016) note that the essential qualities of an effective support group include group management, agreeableness, role modeling, openness, awareness, group process, and willingness. In order to facilitate the group, it is necessary to make sure that the group can be characterized by these features.
Apart from this, it is critical to address confidentiality issues. The establishment of certain rules will be instrumental in facilitating the group and creating a trustful environment (“Starting a support group,” 2018). The leader of the group should make it clear that every word uttered in the room is confidential so the participants can be sure that they can talk about everything they find necessary.
It is important to add that cancer patients and survivors are a vulnerable population and may be sensitive to various issues and areas. Therefore, it is essential to consider these sensitive domains with specific care, but it is also pivotal to address all arising issues at once (“Starting a support group,” 2018). This precision and proper reaction will facilitate the support group. In order to ensure that people’s feelings will not be hurt, it is critical to establish certain rules and topics to discuss or avoid.
At this point, it is necessary to note that support groups should not be regarded as therapeutic groups. The former type of assistance is confined to the provision of support and helping people to cope with certain issues. The focus is on helping people to follow some patterns that are regarded as favorable. Regarding cancer patients, support groups aim at becoming a platform for communication and support necessary to comply with medical prescriptions or other patterns.
The development of social networks is another important goal group leaders try to achieve. Therapeutic groups are designed to ensure the change of behavior that is seen as inappropriate or harmful. For example, cancer patients may need to undergo group therapy if they want to learn how to address stress, depression, or anxiety. Addictions are also treated in therapeutic groups as support groups do not have enough instruments to handle such health conditions.
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Population and Focus
As mentioned above the target population is young adults diagnosed with cancer and this disease survivors. Due to the fact that the illness is associated with considerable changes in people’s lives, as well as certain spiritual shifts, these people often need support that extends the boundaries of their family and friends (Bouma et al., 2015). No other inclusion criteria (apart from age and diagnosis) will be used as the participants should acknowledge the complexity of living with cancer under different circumstances. Various coping strategies, experiences, opportunities, and challenges will be discussed during sessions. The clients will be encouraged to talk about their plans and dreams, as well as success stories or challenges and specific problems.
As far as the focus of the support group is concerned, social support is one of the most important areas to address. Patients often have loving family members and friends who care and love them, but they fail to understand the exact way patients feel (WTNH News8, 2014).
Cancer survivors or patients believe that this understanding can emerge if a person goes through similar challenges. It is critical to help the target population to develop a social network that will have similar experiences and shared values. These social links can be instrumental in living happier lives and paying less attention to the inconvenience treatment may cause. Cancer patients and survivors can benefit from feeling connected, and they can help other people who have started cancer treatment or who have learned about their health condition recently.
Support groups are beneficial for cancer patients and survivors as they bring together people who have similar issue and experiences. One of the primary cases to refer a person to a support group is this individual’s need to meet people who have faced similar challenges. When people require social links and support of other people with similar backgrounds or issues, they will definitely benefit from participating in a support group. The development of a favorable social environment for them may be critical as they may feel lonely or alienated. Creating a sense of connectedness will be central to people’s ability to cope with their problems. Young adults need to feel they are understood, which will help them go on.
Nevertheless, when a cancer patient or survivor has some mood disorders or addictions, support groups can only be used as a supplementary approach. This format is inappropriate for treating behavior disorders as people are not to educated to change their behavioral patterns. Therapeutic groups and even pharmacological treatment may be needed in that case. The client will need to be trained to cope with the emerging issues and shape the existing behaviors. They need to understand the reasons underlying their problems and factors that may trigger undesirable behaviors and thoughts. These goals cannot be attained within the scope of support groups.
To sum up, support groups can be helpful for young adult cancer patients and survivors. The target population often needs support from the people who have had similar experiences. The illness often interferes with such people’s life plans, so experiences of other patients and survivors can help them come to terms with themselves. This group may be sensitive to various topics, so it is important to set certain rules. However, those who need to cope with such issues as depression or anxiety will not benefit from the participation of the support group alone. In that case, the primary approach will be group therapy while support groups can be an effective supplementary method.
Bouma, G., Admiraal, J. M., De Vries, E. G. E., Schröder, C. P., Walenkamp, A. M. E., & Reyners, A. K. L. (2015). Internet-based support programs to alleviate psychosocial and physical symptoms in cancer patients: A literature analysis. Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology, 95(1), 26-37. Web.
Pomery, A., Schofield, P., Xhilaga, M., & Gough, K. (2016). Skills, knowledge and attributes of support group leaders: A systematic review. Patient Education and Counseling, 99(5), 672-688. Web.
Starting a support group. (2018). Web.
WTNH News8. (2014). Cancer support group. Web.