Positive Psychotherapy in patients who have completed cancer treatment

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Positive Psychotherapy in Cancer, designed by a team from IDIBELL and ICO, promotes personal growth during the illness to induce positive vital changes, and consequently to reduce long-term emotional distress, such as anxiety and depression, and symptoms of stress. The emotional distress that many people with cancer present when they finish their cancer treatments does not have so much to do with facing a present threat, as the treatment itself, but with a future threat, such as recovering a full life or the fear to a return of the disease.

What is positive psychotherapy?

Positive Psychotherapy facilitates the accommodation and change of our own life in front of cancer threat, especially prioritizing greater personal relationships. This therapeutic focus produces more perdurable positive life changes that decrease emotional distress.

Facing the diagnosis and treatment of cancer generates, in 40% of patients, significant emotional distress that prevents them from leading a normal life. It is common to feel decay, irritability, experience fear, sleep difficulties, problems in social or intimate relationships, and uncertainty about the future. The high threat of the disease and the possible changes in appearance, work, or family might generate multiple emotional reactions. Until now, psycho-oncological treatments have focused on teaching patients how to control or manage these reactions, which means, to learn to alleviate them. However, after cancer, patients not only experience emotional distress, many refer that the disease has been an opportunity to rethink life “positively”.

A comparative study between Positive psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy

A randomized clinical trial was conducted to compare Positive Psychotherapy in Cancer and Cognitive-behavioral Therapy, the standard treatment for the management of stress reactions. The study included 140 women who, after completing their cancer treatments for breast cancer, had high emotional distress. Of these, 67 received Positive Psychotherapy and 73 Cognitive-behavioral Therapy.

The results, published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, showed that Positive Psychotherapy in Cancer reduced emotional distress and stress more in the long term than a therapy focused on controlling stress reactions.

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