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Individual Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy for Advanced Cancer Patients 

Individual Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy for Advanced Cancer Patients
Individual Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy for Advanced Cancer Patients

William Breitbart

, Wendy G. Lichtenthal

, Allison J. Applebaum

, and Melissa Masterson

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date: 12 April 2021

Among the advanced cancer population, existential concerns are major issues that promote significant distress. For patients who are facing death, meaning and the preservation of meaning are not only clinically and existentially important but also central concepts to a therapeutic intervention. Based on Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy and the principles of existential psychology and philosophy, “meaning-centered psychotherapy” was developed to help patients with advanced cancer sustain or enhance a sense of meaning, peace, and purpose in their lives. This chapter provides an overview of work developing and testing individual meaning-centered psychotherapy (IMCP). It provides an overview of the session content in the IMCP intervention. It also presents findings from clinical trials, which support the efficacy of IMCP as an intervention to increase a sense of meaning, spiritual well-being, and hope while decreasing end-of-life despair. Furthermore, it presents difficult scenarios that may arise when delivering IMCP for clinicians interested in this work.

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