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Psycho-oncology

The Department of Psycho-oncology supports patients with the psychological reactions they may experience in response to a cancer diagnosis.

The multi-disciplinary department – including nursing, psychology and complementary therapy – provides a clinical service to cancer patients in St. Vincent’s University Hospital.

Is psycho-oncology for me?

Are you:

  • Finding it difficult to cope with cancer?
  • Feeling depressed or anxious most of the time?
  • Concerned about how your body looks as a result of cancer or its treatment?
  • Feeling overwhelmed by fears about cancer and the possibility of recurrence?
  • Has your social, family or sexual life been impacted significantly by cancer?

These difficulties are common for people who have been diagnosed with cancer, and if these difficulties are ongoing or worsening over a period of time, meeting with a psychologist may be beneficial instead of dealing with them on your own.

Services                     

Individual assessment and intervention

All patients referred to the service will meet with one or two psychologists for an initial assessment. This will help to decide if any further support or psychological follow-up may be of benefit. Following initial assessment inpatients and outpatients may be offered a period of individual therapeutic work with a member of the psycho-oncology team.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

This eight-week course is offered to oncology patients as a means of coping with cancer. Patients attend once a week for a two-hour period. Course places are limited to 12-20 participants per group.  Where possible, the programme takes place twice a year during the spring and autumn seasons. Evaluations of the groups have shown it to be effective at improving mood and quality of life.

MBCT is open to all oncology patients at St. Vincent’s University Hosptial. Given the demands of the course, it is best suited to patients at the end of their medical treatment.

Cancer-Related Fatigue Group (CRF-Group)

This is an eight-week Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) based intervention for patients experiencing persistent fatigue after their cancer treatment is complete.  Patients must have finished their cancer treatment at least six months before joining the group.  Patients attend once a week for two hours each session.  Course places are limited to 8-12 participants per group and the programme is available bi-annually, subject to demand.

Complementary therapy

The aim of complementary therapy (massage and reflexology) is to promote relaxation, reduce anxiety, relieve stress and treatment-related symptoms. This service is available to inpatients deemed eligible by the psycho-oncology team. A limited outpatient service is also available. Patients must be referred by a clinical psychologist with the agreement of the medical team prior to receiving complementary therapies.

Research and education

The department is committed to ongoing education and research in-line with best practice guidelines. Clinical staff provide regular teaching across numerous post-graduate university programmes on a range of topics including distress in cancer care, end of life care and mindfulness.  Ongoing research streams include investigations into the use of mindfulness-based interventions, self-compassion and patient experience at end of life.

Staff structure

  • Paul D’Alton (Head and Clinical Lead of the Department, Senior Clinical Psychologist)
  • Louise Kinsella (Senior Clinical Psychologist)
  • Dr Susan O’Flanagan (Clinical Psychologist)
  • Ms Mary Moriarty (CNM2 and Complementary Therapist)

Referral information

Please discuss your interest in attending the Department of Psycho-Oncology with your consultant or your medical team. Inpatient referrals are seen as soon as possible upon admission. Outpatient referrals are typically seen for initial assessment within four to six weeks.

Patients interested in participating in the mindfulness or cancer-related fatigue groups can self-refer by contacting the department and asking to be added to the waitlist. A member of the team will meet with patients prior to participation to clarify if the group is likely to meet their needs at this time.

If you, or those close to you, have any serious concerns about your mental health or feel you need immediate support it is advised that you attend your GP or local A&E.

Useful links

Psycho-oncology

General Cancer

Genetic Cancer Risk

Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer

Families

Visit Irish Cancer Society and MacMillan websites in addition to

Lymphodema

Mindfulness

Contact

tel: (01) 221 3317/3248

Location

St. Anne’s Oncology Outpatient Clinic
Ground Floor, Nutley Wing
St. Vincent’s University Hospital
Elm Park
Dublin 4

Opening Hours

Mon to Fri: 08.30 – 17.00