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Psychosocial Services

Staff: Psychiatrist and Social Worker

During the process of diagnosis and treatment here at the Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre, psychosocial support is available to you. These services are provided by a psychiatrist and a social worker. Although there is some overlap, there is also some specificity of the services that these individuals can provide.

The psychiatrist is a doctor trained in the emotional and psychological consequences of illness for the individual, couple and family. Typically people come to the psychiatrist because of worries, fears or sadness that have occurred as a consequence of the illness. It is also the case that previous difficulties with mood or relationship issues may be worsened by the diagnosis and may interfere with taking full advantage of treatment options. At such times you should identify your concern or wish to your nurse or physician and they can refer you to either of the psychosocial staff members for an individual assessment.

During that assessment the relevant variables that are influencing your distress will be clarified and a treatment plan made in collaboration with you as to the best way to manage these difficulties. It is understood that the treatment plan may involve multiple modalities including psychotherapy, couple or family therapy, group therapy, or relevant medications. The goal of the intervention is to help you maximize your access to care and to make the necessary treatment for your cancer as free of psychological or emotional impediment as possible.

As well as providing therapy, the social worker supplies information about, and referrals to, community resources such as financial benefits and home support services. The social worker can see you at various times throughout the treatment course including the Pre-admission Unit, the in-patient surgical unit and the outpatient chemotherapy clinics.

In addition to these psychological interventions, patients in the Breast Centre have access to a number of additional resources which in many cases are sufficient to help women and their families through difficulties. Examples of these are the Resource Centre and the various components of the Table of Plenty Program. We are routinely interested in adjusting the program in the Breast Centre to the needs of patients as relayed to us by individuals and the Patient and Family Advisory Committee, so let us know of things that have been helpful or difficult.

Both psychosocial team members work in the Familial Breast Clinic as well, seeing all patients on their first visit to attempt to identify any psychological issues relevant to genetic counselling and minimize the impact of psychological issues on the process overall. If you will be attending the Familial Breast Clinic, you should feel free to voice any concerns or worries at that time. For this and all other contacts, the professionals may engage in therapy with you or your family members directly or, as appropriate, guide you to other resources in the hospital or the community that are best suited to your particular issues.