When and Why Should Mental Health Professionals Offer Traditional Psychodynamic Therapy to Cancer Patients?

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Abstract

Given the recent studies promoting time-limited manualized therapies in the oncology setting, clinicians may be reluctant to offer traditional psychodynamic therapy to cancer patients. However, there are no studies directly comparing psychodynamic therapy and other therapy modalities in this patient population and no data suggesting harm from psychodynamic approaches. Therefore, it is inappropriate to draw the conclusion that psychodynamic therapy is inferior to manualized therapy from existing evidence. Manualized treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, is generally short term and therefore may reduce the practitioner's own anxiety stemming from exposure to patients facing grave disability and death. However, manualized treatment is not fully effective in specific clinical scenarios. We present a case reflecting these limitations and advocate for a flexible treatment approach incorporating elements of psychodynamic therapy.

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Yuppa, D. P., & Meyer, F. (2017). When and Why Should Mental Health Professionals Offer Traditional Psychodynamic Therapy to Cancer Patients? AMA Journal of Ethics, 19(5), 467–474. https://doi.org/10.1001/journalofethics.2017.19.5.stas2-1705

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