Services Provided by The Wellness Community
Harold H. Benjamin, PhD
Last Modified: May 25, 1997
The Wellness Community is, above everything else, a community - a homelike place where people with cancer and their families can be with others to build support and a sense of extended family to mitigate feelings of unwanted aloneness. It is a place where they can come to learn whatever it is they need to know, on the psychological and emotional level, to fight for recovery along with their medical team. Every aspect of The Wellness Community free program listed below is to help patients improve the quality of their lives and fight for recovery.
- HOMELIKE FACILITY AVAILABLE ALL DAY:
At The Wellness Community they learn about: (1) the unique Patient Active Concept which combines the will of the patient and the skill of the physician, and (2) they meet and learn from others ways they can involve themselves in the fight. All participants are invited to use the community in much the same way as they would use a neighborhood center. Participants and staff are present throughout the day. There are evening and week-end activities.
- ORIENTATION MEETINGS:
These are twice a week informal drop-in groups led by cancer survivors. At these meetings, people with cancer learn that the diagnosis is not always a death sentence, that life does not end with the diagnosis, that they can learn ways to participate in their fight for recovery along with their physician and that there is hope -- always hope. It is at these meetings that they learn about the wide variety of Wellness Community programs and services available for their use.
- PARTICIPANT GROUPS:
On-going, two-hour weekly support groups led by licensed psychotherapists specially trained in TWC's methods of dealing with the psychological and emotional problems of cancer patients. In these groups, participants (1) become part of an extended family of those who understand, (2) learn new and different methods for dealing with the physical and emotional problems associated with the illness and (3) perhaps relieve some of the stress in their lives. Participant groups are for people with cancer who are actively fighting for physical recovery and are willing to make a weekly commitment.*
- FAMILY GROUPS:
Similar to participant groups, these are on-going two-hour weekly support groups led by licensed psychotherapists specially trained in TWC's methods of dealing with the psychological and emotional problems that caregivers face when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer. In these groups, caregivers learn how best to support the person with cancer while supporting themselves - much to the benefit of both.
- SHORT-TERM INDIVIDUAL OR FAMILY COUNSELING:
Six sessions of counseling are available for participants and family members, and are facilitated by licensed Professionals-In-Training or Registered Interns at TWC.
Participants practice a physical relaxation exercise in order to attain the "relaxation response" combined with a visualization or guided-imagery experience. Harold H. Benjamin, Ph.D. in "The Wellness Community Guide to Fighting for Recovery from Cancer," citing the work of Herbert Benson, M.D. and O. Carl Simonton, M.D., discusses the importance of combining these two components as a tool in the fight for recovery. R/V is often helpful for people dealing with pain, side effects of chemotherapy, radiation treatment and reducing stress.
- EDUCATIONAL WORKSHOPS:
Several times each month, workshops, lectures and seminars are conducted by prominent physicians, oncologists, psychologists and other professionals that provide information and education useful for people with cancer. "Ask The Doctor," Nutrition Workshops and Exercise Programs are examples of these drop-in groups. Of course, TWC does not advocate any position in these presentations.
- NETWORKING GROUPS FOR SPECIFIC TYPES OF CANCER:
These groups are facilitated focus groups, meeting regularly, where people with cancer discuss and exchange information about specific types of cancer. Breast Cancer Networking Group and The Prostate Cancer Group are two examples of this type of program.
- THE WELLNESS CONNECTION:
A twice monthly facilitated group for people who are beyond the day-to-day fight for recovery and wish to discuss issues and concerns regarding survivorship. This group, through its Alumni Registry, is often a source of hope and support for participants still actively engaged in fighting cancer.
- COMMUNITY EVENTS:
There are social gatherings such as parties, potlucks, game nights, joke fests, sing-alongs and other celebratory events which brings participants, family members and friends together to laugh and play.
* After a participant is asymptomatic for 18 months, their involvement at TWC can continue in a variety of ways other than the Participant Group, such as The Wellness Connection, the Speaker's Bureau, parties and workshops.