Psychological and self-help therapies
There are several psychological and self-help approaches that may be used to help people cope with stress, anxiety and difficult feelings and emotions.
You may also find that talking openly and honestly with your family and friends, and with the healthcare professionals caring for you, helps you cope with your feelings.
You might find helpful information in our sections about talking about your cancer and about being there for someone with cancer.
There are many different types of talking therapy, including psychotherapy and counselling. These have all been shown to benefit people who have anxiety or depression, and can be useful for people affected by cancer.
You can ask your doctor to put you in touch with the psychological support services at your hospital.
Many people can get support by talking to close family members or friends. But it can sometimes be useful to talk to someone from outside your circle of family and friends, who has been trained to listen and help you explore your feelings. Your emotions may be very tangled and confused. You may find them difficult to talk about and very hard to share with your family or friends.
Talking one-to-one with a trained counsellor in a more focused way is designed to help you sort through your feelings and find ways of coping with them. Some GPs have counsellors within their practice, or they can refer you to a counsellor. Our cancer support specialists can give you details of how to find counsellors in your local area.
You may be offered the chance to take part in group therapy, in which a trained therapist (counsellor or other professional) encourages a group of people to share their feelings and experiences with each other. This is different from a self-help group (see below), as the therapist leading the group will be aware of the individual participants’ problems and will be able to guide the discussion so that everyone benefits.
Organised groups, where people with cancer and their families meet others in a similar situation, can be helpful. This is often the first opportunity that people have to discuss their experiences with other people living with cancer.
These groups can be a source of information and support, and can provide an opportunity for people to talk about their feelings. Some groups are run by health professionals, doctors and nurses, counsellors or psychotherapists in a hospital. More commonly, people with cancer run the groups. They often offer different techniques and coping strategies, together with relaxation or visualisation, as well as practical information and emotional support.
If you’re interested in joining a group but are unsure about whether it would be helpful, you could try making some enquiries about it first. Or you could go to a meeting to see what it‘s like. You may feel more comfortable if you take a relative or friend along with you. But if you’re uncomfortable with a group situation, you don’t have to go again. You may find it more helpful to find someone you can speak with individually on a regular basis to support you.
Get more information and find a self-help and support group near you.
Having cancer is a life-changing experience. When treatment finishes, many people find it helps to talk about it and share their thoughts, feelings and advice with other people. Just hearing about how you’ve coped, what side effects you had and how you managed them is very helpful to someone in a similar situation.
We can help you share your story through our Cancer Voices network.
How have we created this information?
Read our statement about how we have written and reviewed our information about complementary therapies.