Healing Psyche by Rob van Overbruggen PhD
One of the drawbacks with any complementary therapy is that each one is touted as having all the answers. Sure, it’s a necessity for the individual practitioners in marketing what they do, and this positive attitude is important to instil confidence in a client before they work together.
But what do you do if you’re looking to find a more complete therapeutic intervention? And what if you’re dealing with cancer clients, where the very fear of the C word can send clients and their families into shock or denial or for a manic search for a ‘cure’.
As an NLP Practitioner and Meta-Medicine Health Coach, the question of what the best approaches to cancer care are has been on my mind for a while. No other disease carries a greater emotional punch than cancer, and no other disease gets the same level of medical funding and press attention. Yet there’s a sense that there’s a lot more complementary therapists could do in offering a more total solution.
Healing Psyche is a very large part of that solution. Rob’s PhD paper-turned-guidebook is an essential read for any psychological therapist working with cancer clients.
The amount of information he has sifted through to provide a comprehensive guide for psychological complementary cancer care is impressive. If, like me, you’ve spent hours on the internet piecing together therapeutic interventions, then you’ll know how unreliable the internet can be for solid information on cancer interventions. Sure there’s plenty of sites out there, but little detail about how best to approach cancer clients and which techniques work and why.
Rob’s first topic is dealing with what cancer is. He effortlessly knocks down our installed belief that cancer is a killer – pointing out that more people recover from a tumour than die from one. He then begins to look at the mind-body connection, and just shies away from putting forward the view that there’s no separate mind and body – that the two are in fact more than co-dependant, they are a single open system.
There’s plenty of explanation of how doctors approach cancer and patients, elucidating the often jargon-ridden way of grading patients that often concerns complementary practitioners. But in order to fully help cancer clients (with the attendant Big Pharma and traditional medicine approach), complementary practitioners need to understand the process their clients are asked to engage in.
One of the key moments for me, is the idea of focussing on quality of life rather than longevity. The phrase “expect to get better, accept that things could get worse” is now a mantra in my work with clients. Rob points out that those who overcome cancer often talk of feeling ‘weller than well’ and mentally much more alive and adaptable.
This belief is fascinating in itself, but the point that Healing Psyche blows me away is where Rob presents the evidence that a majority of cancer patients share many unproductive personality traits. They will often care for others far more than for themselves – to their own detriment. They also often have issues with lack of self-worth, self-confidence and assertiveness, and shy away from conflict or expressing anger. Saying ‘No’ is also a big problem.
At the time of writing, someone close to me is dealing with cancer, and reading this section of Healing Psyche was like looking inside their mind. The similarities were shocking, but also empowered me to know what interventions I could work with.
Rob’s points out that these unhelpful beliefs need to be changed before any work can be done directly to engage the client with working towards a better quality of life. As an NLP Practitioner and Meta-Medicine Health Coach I know how frustrating it can be when a client seems unwilling to engage in moving towards wellness, despite what they may tell me. The powerful interventions offered here arms me with the tools I need to better help my patients help themselves.
The number of interventions and approaches to treatment are incredible. Rob’s book has inspired me to create a cancer care programme, using many of these interventions and my knowledge of Meta-Medicine.
Many cancer care books are either too lightweight or offer dense, complecated approaches. Rob’s book walks a clever middle road, with the text littered with poignant quotes and easy to relate to metaphors that throw light on this fascinating subject area.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO ANYONE USING A MENTAL, PHYSICAL OR SPIRITUAL APPROACH WITH CANCER CLIENTS.