In the challenging landscape of cancer care, where treatments often leave patients immunocompromised, safeguarding both physical and mental health is crucial. For patients, survivors, and their devoted caregivers, the emotional toll can be profound. In these pivotal moments, online therapy offers a sanctuary—a way to access vital psychological support without the risk of exposure to germs that could compromise the patient's already delicate immune system.
What is Psycho-Oncology?
Psycho-oncology addresses the two-sided relationship between cancer and psychological health. It encompasses a patient’s psychological response to cancer at all stages — diagnosis, treatment, remission, recurrence, and palliative care. This field also extends to the psychological, behavioral, and social factors that may influence the disease process.
By acknowledging that cancer impacts more than just the body, psycho-oncology provides a holistic approach to cancer care. This approach is patient-centered, considering each individual’s unique experiences, emotional needs, and psychological history.
The Digital Embrace in Psycho-Oncology
Online therapy, or Telehealth in Australia, allows immunocompromised patients to receive the same standard of psychological care without putting their health at risk. Telehealth is able to break down barriers that once left many immunocompromised survivors feeling isolated. It brings the therapeutic alliance into the safety and comfort of the patient's home, eliminating the risk of infections that come with in-person visits. Especially for those undergoing treatments like chemotherapy, which can severely impact immune function, online therapy offers a safe alternative to receive continuous mental health care.
Building a Therapeutic Relationship from Afar
Contrary to common misconceptions, numerous studies have shown that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy. For example, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders found that online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is equally as effective as face-to-face treatment for anxiety and depression. This study found that therapeutic outcomes are not dependent on medium of therapy, but the relationship and connection between the therapist and the client.
The Path Forward
Online therapy is not a mere substitution but an expansion of traditional psycho-oncology care. It's a path forward that aligns with the evolving needs of cancer patients and families. As the world of healthcare continues to transform, the integration of online therapy into psycho-oncology care ensures that mental health support is always within reach, no matter the physical limitations.
For immunocompromised cancer patients, this is a promise of continuity—continuity of care, continuity of support, and continuity of a therapeutic partnership that can guide them through the most challenging times.
As we embrace this digital revolution, we find ourselves at the cusp of a new era in psycho-oncology. An era where the physical vulnerabilities opened up by cancer do not equate to a vulnerability in mental health care access. An era where the immunocompromised can receive the psychological support they need with a click, not a risk.
We're committed to providing this innovative, compassionate, and personalised care. For those on the cancer journey, whether you are the patient, carer or family, we want to say: You are not alone, and your mental health is so important. Together, let's embrace the possibilities of online therapy.