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Interventions for Clients Coping with Cancer
Interventions for Clients Coping with Cancer - 10 CEUs

Section 6
The Roles of Negative Affect in Cancer (Part 1)

CEU Question 6 | CE Test | Table of Contents | Cancer
Psychologist CEs, Counselor CEUs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

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On the last track we discussed taking charge. The four steps to taking charge are defining the team leader, avoiding the surrender of leadership, using visualization to take chare, and evaluation and substitution. 

On the next three tracks we will discuss reforming negative emotions. 

Lynn, age 48, was an entrepreneur whose partner had forced her out of the business she had started.  I found that Lynn’s case was illustrative of an emotion that was intense and long lasting and may have had an effect on the course of her cancer.  Lynn stated, "When I lost my business, I cried and screamed at my partner until he stopped listening.  Then I screamed some more.  Six months later, I was diagnosed with lymphoma." 

Lynn spent a year undergoing treatment and meeting weekly with a psychotherapeutic support group.  Lynn stated, "There is still no way for me to have a conversation that doesn’t end up with me complaining about my ex-partner."  Think of your Lynn.  Is it possible that your client has a negative emotion that might also be creating an immune-depressing condition

Reforming Negative Emotions - Part 1 of 3
Here are three methods that Lynn used to reform her negative emotions.  The three methods are determine if the emotion is realistic and appropriate, limit the duration of the unpleasant emotion, and control the intensity of the unpleasant emotion.  The focus of this track will be on determining if the emotion is realistic and appropriate.  As you listen, consider your client.  How might you help your client determine if his or her emotion is realistic or appropriate?

Method # 1 - Determine If the Emotion is Realistic and Appropriate
First, let’s discuss determining if the emotion is realistic and appropriate.  I asked Lynn to start describing her reaction to the stressor of losing her business.  I requested, "When you do this, go into detail and be specific, but omit drama.  Don’t let your emotions confuse the issue."  Lynn maintained her objectivity and the answers to the following questions regarding her stressor became apparent to her. 

4 Steps to Determine if the Emotion is Realistic and Appropriate
1. First, I asked,
"What is actually your concern?"  Although the answer to this question may seem obvious to your client at first, it can be difficult to answer.  Lynn first thought her concern was, as she called it, ‘being screwed over.’  Through therapy, Lynn came to realize that her concern with losing her business to her partner reflected a fear of abandonment.

2. Next, I asked Lynn,
"Is your fear based on this one event alone or on prior experiences as well?"  Lynn was eventually able to explain that her father left her for two weeks each month in his job as a traveling salesman.  Though Lynn expected to be abandoned, she felt upset for extended periods of time when she perceived abandonment.

3. A third question
I asked Lynn was, "If you perceive abandonment again, how badly will you be hurt?"  In Lynn’s case, her anxiety had some realistic application and the anticipated results of abandonment were somewhat realistic.  However, would you agree that an unemotional consideration of the future may bring about thoughts of a much less dire possibility? 

4. Four more questions I asked were
, how likely is it that what you are worried about will take place?  Are you overreacting?  Is there a more reasonable way for you to react?  And is your reaction reasonable and rational?  Have you found like I that asking your client these questions can bring about a more realistic perspective to a situation?  It helped Lynn become aware that her prolonged reaction to her ex-partner’s poor business ethics was neither realistic or appropriate.  After this first step in reforming, I felt that Lynn was beginning to replace her reaction with a more realistic and appropriate response of acceptance.

Think of your Lynn.  How might she benefit from determining whether her reaction to a stressor is appropriate?  How might learning that your client’s reaction is unrealistic and reforming it help his or her immune system in the fight for recovery?

On this track we discussed the first step of reforming negative emotions.  This first step is determining if the emotion is realistic and appropriate.  Three questions you can ask clients to help them determine if an emotion is realistic and appropriate are What is actually your concern?   Is your emotion based on this one event alone or on prior experiences as well?  And lastly, as n Lynn’s case,If you perceive abandonment again, how badly will you be hurt? 

On the next track we will continue to discuss reforming negative emotions.  We will discuss two additional methods for reforming negative emotions.  These will be limit the duration of the unpleasant emotion, and control the intensity of the unpleasant emotion.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Castonguay, A. L., Wrosch, C., & Sabiston, C. M. (2017). The roles of negative affect and goal adjustment capacities in breast cancer survivors: Associations with physical activity and diurnal cortisol secretion. Health Psychology, 36(4), 320–331. 

Ciere, Y., Janse, M., Almansa, J., Visser, A., Sanderman, R., Sprangers, M. A. G., Ranchor, A. V., & Fleer, J. (2017). Distinct trajectories of positive and negative affect after colorectal cancer diagnosis. Health Psychology, 36(6), 521–528. 

Hart, S. L., & Charles, S. T. (2013). Age-related patterns in negative affect and appraisals about colorectal cancer over time. Health Psychology, 32(3), 302–310. 

Rompilla, D. B., Jr., Hittner, E. F., Stephens, J. E., Mauss, I., & Haase, C. M. (2021). Emotion regulation in the face of loss: How detachment, positive reappraisal, and acceptance shape experiences, physiology, and perceptions in late life. Emotion.

Stanton, A. L., Wiley, J. F., Krull, J. L., Crespi, C. M., & Weihs, K. L. (2018). Cancer-related coping processes as predictors of depressive symptoms, trajectories, and episodes. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86(10), 820–830.

Steffen, L. E., Vowles, K. E., Smith, B. W., Gan, G. N., & Edelman, M. J. (2018). Daily diary study of hope, stigma, and functioning in lung cancer patients. Health Psychology, 37(3), 218–227.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 6
What are three questions which you can ask a client to help them determine if an emotion is realistic and appropriate? To select and enter your answer go to CE Test.
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