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The use of the therapeutic audio program in mitigating post-surgical fears in female breast cancer survivors
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Tags: emotional healing, breast cancer, emotional recovery after breast cancer, breast cancer survivors

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Abstract Appeared in the Journal of European Association for Cancer Education March 2005

The Use of the Therapeutic Audio Program: An Aid to Emotional Recovery After Breast Cancer in Mitigating Post-Surgical Fears and Emotional Presentations in Female Breast Cancer Survivors.

To determine if on-going posttraumatic and emotional presentations following traditional surgical treatment and emotional support provided for female breast cancer survivor patients could be successfully addressed via specific clinical hypnotherapeutic processes.

This private study set out to evaluate a simple means of introducing cost effective mind body processes aimed to mitigate post-treatment emotional presentations and to increase female breast cancer survivors' participation in their own emotional recovery.

Background Methods
Twenty-four female breast cancer survivors aged 41 – 58 years presented with post traumatic emotional issues including anxiety, fear of reoccurrence and vulnerability over a period of 29 months (07/00-10/02). End of treatment time lapse varied between 3 months to 8 years 2 months. An initial session explained the mind body connection. Specific guided imagery and relaxation processes were used intended to mitigate presenting symptoms and frequency of presentation. Audio recordings of each session given to each participant used the same process, content and delivery methods. An additional ambient music session provided patient self-relaxation. After each session, subjects continued listening in the home environment according to a required schedule. All patients completed a questionnaire at 4 monthly intervals; numbers were variable as patients joined the group at various times.

Background Results
Reduced anxiety was reported in 23 of the 24 participants. One participant who reported increased emotional distress also reported a life-changing event occurring in the significant other. Also reported were reduced fears of reoccurrence, increased optimism, along with a sense of taking part in their own healing, easier relaxation and increased confidence and self-esteem.

Commencing March 2003, the above processes were migrated onto compact disc, with a 45-day listening schedule. Commencing May 2003, the CD was given to 15 breast cancer survivors (aged 38 – 63 years) over a period of 6 months. Time lapse from end of treatment was between 11 months to 6 years. Each patient was asked to submit an evaluation form that included QOL issues, perceived benefit in confidence, mood, and significant other relationship, along with interpersonal confidence. Questionnaires were submitted bi-monthly until May 2004.  

All patients recorded beneficial feedback in QOL, relations with significant other, and mood. Twelve patients offered additional information including: enhanced future perspectives, better sleep, reduced 'free floating anxiety', reduced vulnerability and appreciation of their own self help involvement.

Significant cost effective benefit appears possible by structured self help recordings. These preliminary trials indicate a patient need and a solution method in this area of emotional recovery. Patients appear willing to participate in additional self help methods. Significant other participation also appeared to aid in reducing anxieties, and enhanced personal bonding.

Since its development, breast healthcare and breast cancer specialists from several discipline levels have comprehensively listened to and reviewed this recorded program. This has resulted in positive feedback:  the program CD has been purchased by several NHS Hospitals and informational leaflets are being made available to patients and professionals in over 110 NHS hospitals.
While the two studies were small, the feedback from patients, medical professionals and care providers indicates an acknowledgement by all involved that the use of structured recordings of this kind have a place in emotional recovery after breast cancer.

By Michael Mahoney Clinical Hypnotherapist
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Biography: Michael Mahoney is a member of the Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology, the Hypnotherapy Association, The British Council of Hypnotist Examiners, as well as the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, the European Association for Cancer Education and the International Functional Brain-Gut Research Group.
Serves patients through NHS, non-NHS and BUPA
He has research and patient trials experience showing success rates of 85% - 95% IBS symptom reduction using his Ongoing Progressive Session Induction Method (OPSIM).
In 2003 he was named first in the Independent on Sunday ‘Top Brass Section’ of leading hypnotherapists in the UK.
His hypnotherapy practice sponsored the UK’s first IBS Awareness evening at Liverpool University in 1997.

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