Complementary Psychological Therapies

  • Marisa Cordella
  • Aldo Poiani


When we really feel unwell, we should seek the advice of a good and scientifically trained doctor. The doctor will examine us, and, if suspicious of a serious illness, we will be requested to undergo various examinations. The tests may finally tell that we have cancer. What to do next? This may seem a silly question, but today in many societies the patient does have choices and the patient’s life rests on what he or she does with this right to choose. What the individual finally decides to do will be his or her prerogative, but we should hope for a well-informed decision. In this decision-making process it is always possible to make mistakes. The problem with cancer is that by the time the patient realises that he/she got it wrong it may be too late. This was the case of Steve Jobs, the founder of the computer company Apple, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer but decided to delay conventional therapy in order to pursue other kinds of therapies such as acupuncture, herbal therapy, diet therapy and spiritual exercises. After 9 months of exclusive non-conventional therapies he decided to undergo chemotherapy and surgery, but it was too late. Does Job’s story prove that complementary psychological therapies (CPTs), such as spiritual exercises and meditation, are therefore useless? Not really. In fact, CPTs do have an important role to play in the overall plan to tackle the challenges of cancer, but such a role should be seen as synergistic with that of conventional therapies (surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy), especially when a cancer has been already diagnosed. In addition, CPTs can be useful in the prevention of cancer by decreasing the levels of stress, apart from their use as adjuvant therapies throughout the period of conventional treatment. During remission, CPTs may provide some aid in preventing cancer recurrence or at least help individuals to be mentally better prepared to absorb the shock of recurrence of cancer if it does happen.


Music Therapy Massage Therapy Terminal Cancer Patient Hatha Yoga Magical Thinking 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marisa Cordella
    • 1
  • Aldo Poiani
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Languages and Comparative Cultural StudiesUniversity of Queensland BrisbaneBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesMonash University ClaytonClaytonAustralia

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