14. Couples Therapy in Advanced Cancer: Using Intimacy and Meaning to Reduce Existential Distress

  1. Maggie Watson1,2,3 and
  2. David W. Kissane4,5
  1. Talia I. Zaider4 and
  2. David W. Kissane4,5

Published Online: 20 APR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470975176.ch14

Handbook of Psychotherapy in Cancer Care

Handbook of Psychotherapy in Cancer Care

How to Cite

Zaider, T. I. and Kissane, D. W. (2011) Couples Therapy in Advanced Cancer: Using Intimacy and Meaning to Reduce Existential Distress, in Handbook of Psychotherapy in Cancer Care (eds M. Watson and D. W. Kissane), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470975176.ch14

Editor Information

  1. 1

    The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Downs Road, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5PT, UK

  2. 2

    Institute of Cancer Research, London, WCIE 6BT, UK

  3. 3

    Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, London, WCIE 6BT, UK

  4. 4

    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA

  5. 5

    Weill Medical College of Cornell University, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA

Author Information

  1. 4

    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA

  2. 5

    Weill Medical College of Cornell University, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 APR 2011
  2. Published Print: 3 JUN 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470660034

Online ISBN: 9780470975176

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Keywords:

  • couples therapy;
  • advanced cancer;
  • existential;
  • meaning-making;
  • intimacy-enhancing;
  • psychological intervention

Summary

For patients with a reduced life expectancy identifying relational meaning becomes a powerful source of intimacy and celebration of what is treasured in their marriage. A focus on understanding the impact of the illness on the relationship, redefining their history and its accomplishments, naming any existential challenges, fostering mutual support and defining the legacy of their shared life are key exercises within this model that facilitate adaptation and coping despite the threat of loss. This chapter focuses on couples therapy in advanced cancer and outlines the therapeutic model along with practical advice on delivery of care in this context.