THE HEALING FAMILY: The Simonton Approach for Families Facing Illness by Stephanie with Robert L. Shook Simonton

THE HEALING FAMILY: The Simonton Approach for Families Facing Illness

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Psychotherapist Simonton is director of the Cancer Counseling and Research Center in Dallas, where therapy is family-oriented, and co-author of Getting Well Again (1978), which laid heavy stress on mental attitudes in cancer treatment. Once again, she takes issue with the outlook that ""it's the doctor's job to heal me."" In any case of catastrophic illness, patients should secure the best available medical help, and then set about mustering their psychological and emotional resources--which is where families can step in. The goal is not just to secure the patient's recovery, or to lengthen his or life span, but to maintain or improve the quality of life. Simonton first discusses reactions to a diagnosis of cancer; then, as families recover from the initial shock and want to act, she suggests specific courses of action. Members can take on different tasks--physical caretaking, investigation of medical alternatives. A support system can be developed (there are pointers on asking for various kinds of help), and other practical matters can be dealt with. Then it is time to attend to emotional and family matters. Simonton discusses how lines of communication can be opened--to support the patient, to deal with stress and fear, to enable family members to go on living their individual lives. Throughout, her message is that ""the patient's ability to express emotions is a significant influence in the healing process"": if the rest of the family can respond constructively and openly, this is the best possible support. Without the psychological ""surveillance"" techniques (and miracle-cure aura) of the earlier book: a comforting and concretely instructive guide for families seeking direction.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1983
Publisher: Bantam