“The aim of Psycho Oncology department is to provide psychological and emotional support to the patients and their caregivers to combat the Battle with cancer and to improve their Quality of Life”.
Counseling is an integral element of Oncology treatment. Diagnosis of Cancer is devastating for patients as well as for families. Patients have a whole plethora of queries in their minds pertaining to their diagnosis, treatment , follow-ups and survival, changes in their life, their life with and after cancer, their relationship with their spouse, children, work relationships, finances etc. Patients do speak to their doctors as well as Nurses, but someone who can understand each phase they are going through is a Psycho Oncologist/Psychologist/Counselors.
The department of Psycho Oncology at RGCI & RC has a compact team, comprising of Psychologist (Psycho Oncologist) and counselors.
Counseling is a process of one to one interaction between a therapist and the patient, where a therapist enables a person to talk about the issues or emotional and behavioral difficulties that are bothering them. Expressing difficult thoughts and feelings through the process of Counseling can help the patient begin to understand them and move towards a way of dealing with the changes in his/her life brought about by cancer.
A psychologist/counselor is trained personnel for active listening to the various facets of problems patient and their caregivers face on day-to-day basis and psychologist/counselor strives to fetch out solutions in a collective manner. In pediatric cases for instance, the family/caregiver needs counseling session more than the patient. A lot of it also influences the compliance to the treatment. At Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre, Psycho Oncology Department plays a key role in integrating patients with their primary team, caregiver and especially with themselves.
In a counseling session, a safe and confidential environment is presented wherein the patient or client can express difficult feelings that may be confusing or stressful to him. The act of focusing on uncomfortable emotions or experiences in a non-judgmental space can enable the patient to see things more clearly and encourages positive changes in the patient which can lead him to gain control over his life.
It is normal to feel distressed with a diagnosis of cancer or living with it. However, it’s important to seek help when the distress is long lasting and affects ones routine life in various parameters like physical, emotional, spiritual, and so on. Seeking help is also important when these feelings affect your ability to cope with issues. However, you may find counseling helpful even if your level of distress is not severe. Even few counseling sessions will likely help you.
The main aim of counseling is to empower the patients with mindfulness based approach and confidence to make their own choices and decision to explore ways to cope with their diagnosis, managing their emotional concerns and discuss ways to address and cope with any life style changes that might occur during the treatment process.
The department of Psycho Oncology at RGCI&RC is also actively involved in training interns from across the country from the field of psychology. The basic requirement for interns is to have finished Masters in Psychology or perusing the same and should have through knowledge and understanding about the basic concepts of psychology. Candidates have to appear in a compressive screening and an entrance test to get enrolled for internships. After finishing internships the candidates have to also appear in an exam and have to submit few case studies to get Certificate of internship from the institute. The department certifies five interns on an average every year, but is not limited to this number. Further information on procedure for applying for internship shall be received from Human Recourses department of the institute.
The department is actively involved in scientifically studying the psychosocial aspect and impact of oncology and currently involved in various research projects as well. The research papers from the department find their place in some of the leading national and international journals.
The Department is highly pro active in conducting regular CMEs, workshops and conferences on various topics and themes. The department has organized CMEs on topics like Distress in Cancer patients and clinical staff, Stress and burnout among Nurses and Oncologists, Communication in Oncology, Stress Management Techniques and so on.
The department has also organized and coordinated some of the national and international conferences like Lymphoma Survival Meet 2014, Lymphoma Survival Meet 2016, Breast Survivors Meet 2015, Breast Survivors Meet 2016, World Mental Health Day 2017, Chai for Cancer on World Cancer Day 2018, and many more and is always committed to conduct more such events in future.
At RGCI&RC, the department provides a compressive team support to the support groups that are currently working at the institute. There are three diseases specific support groups in action at the institute namely Lymphoma support group, cancer survivor and caregivers support group of Indian Cancer Society namely “Cancer Sahyog” and last but not the least volunteers from Yes to Life NGO. The volunteers, who are mostly the winners of cancer battle, come every week to support the patients being diagnosed or getting treatment of cancer at the institute. The main aim of these support groups is to provide emotional and social support to these patients. These support groups meet patients in the supervisions of qualified psychologists or counselors to make sure the process goes professionally and ethically.
“The diagnosis of Cancer not only poses challenges on ones physical well being, but its implications are also on behavioral, emotional and spiritual parameters. Our goal is to help you cope with the challenges of cancer and keep your emotions intact during the treatment.”
1. Head Psycho Oncology – Dr.Harsha Agarwal (Ph.D, MITBCCT,U.K)
2. Psychologist 1 – Mrs. Pankaj Verma (PGDCP, M.A.)
3. Psychologist 2- (Vacancy open)
4. Psychologist 3 – Ms. Aayushi Khaneja (M.A.)
5. Play Room Teacher – Ms. Kajal Jaiswal (B.Sc, NTT)