Cancer As A Turning Point
Our approach is different from that of traditional psychotherapies. The traditional focus is on psychological and emotional problems. Its basic questions are, “What’s wrong with you?” and “What are the past causes?”
Years of clinical research have shown that this traditional approach is not productive for people dealing with an illness threatening their lives. Not only is it irrelevant to their immediate concerns, but of far more importance, it has no effect on the course of their illness. With LeShan’s approach, the focus is not on problems and past causes, but on what interests, excites, fulfills and vitalizes the person.
This psychotherapy emphasizes the unique individuality of each person. It encourages you to find your own best ways of being, relating and creating. Its basic questions are “What is right with you?” “What is your own best ways of living?” and “How, given the reality of your situation, can you move more and more in that direction?”
The therapy guides our clients in finding a way of being that brings purpose and fulfillment to their daily life. We explore the past only insofar as it blocks the future they want to create. Our work aims at helping them claim the right to live in ways they would find fulfilling, ways that generate enthusiasm and a commitment to the future. When they do this, their healing resources often respond.
What do you really want? Although we each want something different, we all want more meaning, fulfillment, joy, and enthusiasm. To bring this about, we each have to find our own way to custom-design our life. There is no one right way that fits everyone. When we take action to bring about our own, individual ways to upgrade and enrich our life, this changes us emotionally, psychologically, in relation to others, spiritually -- and physically.
Thoughts and feelings cannot cause or cure cancer, but feelings affect body chemistry (which affects the development or regression of tumors), just as body chemistry affects feelings. When we act toward ourselves in ways that truly help to nurture the best of ourselves, our feelings change in response. As we feel more positive about who we are, we find it easier to keep acting in ways that nourish us.
When we find life more fulfilling, we tend not only to live more fully, but to live longer. When we try to become the best of ourselves, our trying tells our immune system that we are worth fighting for, and often it follows our example and works toward our health in a stronger way.
“[Our] approach can be conceptualized as having four parts. The first asks the question, 'What is right with this person? What are his or her best ways of living, relating and creating?'...”
Ruth Bolletino, “The Patient as a Person,” Part 2: “Research summary,” in Integrative Cancer Therapies
Vol. 3, No. 2, June 2004
© Lawrence LeShan and Ruth Bolletino