You don't need to have cancer to benefit from the exercise of reflecting on what is most meaningful in your life. We are generally too mindless and busy to notice! But it is never too late to stop, take a breath, and reflect on what we love.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
I recently read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal by Melissa Beck: A New View, After Diagnosis, highlighting a program on "meaning-making" at Memorial Sloan-Kettering for advanced stage cancer patients. The program is based on the seminal work of Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, in which he suggests that people can endure any suffering if they know their life has meaning. Dr. William Breithart, who developed the program known as meaning-centered psychotherapy, explains that through the program participants are guided to "reconnect with many sources of meaning in life -- love, work, history, family relationships, and teaches them that when cancer produces an obstacle in one, they can find in one, they can find meaning in another". Results of a pilot study comparing "meaning-making" groups compared to traditional cancer support groups were encouraging in respect to decreased anxiety and increased spiritual well-being.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Is there a difference between empathy and emotional reasoning? Michael LaFerney, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, believes that healthcare professionals often confuse the two, and this can often hinder or derail patient-provider communication. In the current edition of Advance for Nurses, Dr. LaFerney defines empathy "as the ability to understand another person's circumstances, point of view, thoughts and feelings." He goes on to explain that, "Empathy involves communication. Trying to understand what another person is experiencing without communication leads to interpretation without meaning. It becomes a mechanism of internal thought processes rather than an understanding of another's point of view or feelings." Dr. LaFerney describes emotional reasoning as "mind reading" on the part of the healthcare professional; unconsciously inferring one's own feelings, anxiety, or needs to the patient. Emotional reasoning is a lot faster for harried physicians and nurses than empathetic communication, because it does not require slowing down and taking time to truly listen to the patient. But as Dr. LaFerney points out it often leads to misdiagnosis and disconnection from the patient's needs, fears, or desires. The bottom line is MORE COMMUNICATION LEADS TO QUALITY HEALTHCARE.
What are your thoughts on empathy vs. emotional reasoning?