A psychotherapeutic exploration of the impact of working on multidisciplinary teams in psycho-oncology

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Sobesto, Milena
Issue Date
MA in Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Psycho-oncology involves different professions working together to provide holistic care for cancer patients. Psycho-oncology as a newly established subspecialty of oncology caters for the psychosocial needs of cancer patients. The integration of professionals is an attribute of psycho-oncology, seeing the inclusion of nurses, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and in small numbers, psychotherapists. The character of the work with patients dying of cancer can have a significant impact on the individual professionals, bringing to question their own mortality and exercising their own compassion which can lead to certain dynamics such as performance or death anxiety, and denial of impact, which all affects the functioning of multidisciplinary teamwork. This qualitative study presents a psychotherapeutic exploration of the impact of working on multidisciplinary teams (MDT's) in psycho-oncology, which was examined through the experience of five professionals working in psycho-oncology. This study analysed the aspects of working with vulnerability, self and other, in the psycho-oncology wards. The research has described the unconscious and projective identifications that are an indication of the difficulty of working in psycho-oncology. It also looked at the notion of communication within the MDT's showing that the grouping can carry certain dynamics that impacts the professionals, their well-being, care effectiveness, and overall functioning of the team. The finding suggested more awareness of the psychological difficulty that the work of psycho-oncology carries. The study questioned the impact of the individuals working in psycho-oncology and added valuable psychotherapeutic insight to the limited research in the area. Author keywords: Psycho-oncology, psychotherapy, multidisciplinary teams