© 2008

Helping Couples Cope with Women’s Cancers

An Evidence-Based Approach for Practitioners


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-5
  2. Assessment: Toward an Understanding of How Couples Cope with Cancer

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 7-7
    2. Karen Kayser, Jennifer L. Scott
      Pages 9-33
    3. Karen Kayser, Jennifer L. Scott
      Pages 35-51
    4. Karen Kayser, Jennifer L. Scott
      Pages 53-67
  3. Intervention: Helping Couples Cope with Women’s Cancers

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 69-69
    2. Karen Kayser, Jennifer L. Scott
      Pages 71-81
    3. Karen Kayser, Jennifer L. Scott
      Pages 83-103
    4. Karen Kayser, Jennifer L. Scott
      Pages 105-119
    5. Karen Kayser, Jennifer L. Scott
      Pages 121-144
    6. Karen Kayser, Jennifer L. Scott
      Pages 145-174
    7. Karen Kayser, Jennifer L. Scott
      Pages 175-194
    8. Karen Kayser, Jennifer L. Scott
      Pages 195-222
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 223-229

About this book


Close relationships can be vital to a woman’s recovery from breast or gynecological cancer and the myriad stressors that accompany diagnosis and treatment. Helping Couples Cope with Women’s Cancer shows readers not only how to enlist the patient’s closest support person in coping with the disease, but also to help that partner with the stressors, such as feelings of inadequacy and loss, that so often come with the role.

The authors, established experts on their subject, recognize the challenges couples face, the central role of communication in coping, and the individuality of each patient and couple. In addition to proven intervention techniques and helpful assessment tools, the book features case illustrations, "What to do if…" sections, sociocultural considerations, and suggestions for when the patient’s caregiver is not her partner. Key areas of coverage include:

  • Assessment: quality of life, impact of illness, family resources.
  • Balancing work, family, self-care, and the demands of illness.
  • Cognitive coping, relaxation, stress reduction.
  • Body image, sexuality, and intimacy.
  • Helping children cope: developmental guidelines.
  • Transitions: goal-setting, life after cancer, facing recurrence or terminal illness.

The skills and insights contained in Helping Couples Cope with Women’s Cancers will benefit a range of health and mental health practitioners, including counselors, social workers, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and nurses. Graduate students planning a career in health psychology or couples therapy should also find it a valuable resource.


Assessment Body Image Breast Dyadic Gynecological Sexuality communication intervention psychology

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Social WorkBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

About the authors

Karen Kayser, Professor, specializes in health psychology, social work in medical settings, intervention research, and couples therapy. She is the principal investigator of "Skills Training for Breast Cancer Patients and Their Partners" (funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Breast Cancer Research Program).

Recently she co-organized the "International Meeting on the Developmental Course of Couples Coping with Stress" (supported by a grant from the American Psychological Association, Science Directorate). She teaches courses on family theories and research, couples therapy, and social work practice with women. She received her B.A. from Michigan State University and her M.S.W. and Ph.D. (Social Work & Psychology) from the University of Michigan.

Bibliographic information


From the reviews:

"A family systems/cognitive behavioral approach to dealing with the stressors felt by a woman who is diagnosed with breast or gynecological cancer and her intimate partner. … This book would make an excellent text for a graduate-level health psychology course dealing with the psychology of illness. It also would be good for a clinician … . is a current, up-to-date refresher on the literature of how illness affects the individuals diagnosed as well as the loved ones who support and help care for them." (Leslie B. Rosen, PsycCRITIQUES, Vol. 53 (42), October, 2008)

"Helping Couples Cope with Women’s Cancers is a guide that describes an approach to working with couples who are dealing with early stage breast or gynecological cancers. ... Overall, this book is a useful resource for clinicians working with women coping with breast or gynecological cancers. ... this book will serve as a helpful guide for clinicians working with this patient population." (Sharon L. Manne, Psycho-Oncology, Vol. 18, 2009)