Hypnotherapy for cancer carers

Caring for someone living with and beyond cancer is different to each person, and may be a deeply rewarding experience. It can also bring up some often-overlooked and unexpected challenges for the carer.


The cancer diagnosis may have come as a shock, and becoming a carer may be something that you haven’t thought of, or been given the time to prepare for. It may not have been something that you have ever talked about in your relationship. Or it may be something that you are dealing with as a result of the increased needs of your loved one, after a long or intense journey of treatments. It may be that you had an idea about how the caring role would work, but this is at odds with your experience.  

It is very common for to you feel that your life and relationships have suddenly altered in unexpected ways.  You may find yourself managing a host of different responsibilities such as: 

  • understanding the disease, treatment and side effects
  • managing medication
  • managing multiple appointments and transport for someone who is unwell
  • repeating updates to family members and friends
  • loss of income for your loved one, or loss of your own income or both
  • taking up increased domestic work
  • not having time to look after your own physical and emotional needs in the same way as before

Research indicates that there is a combination of factors which go towards making caring a fulfilling experience. These can be summarised as the following:

  • Being able to comprehend the caring situation – understanding events and being able to predict what is likely to happen next 
  • having a sense that you have skills, ability, support, resources to manage and take care of things 
  • find meaning in the caring situation – a belief that there is a good reason or purpose to care about what happens to you as well as those you are caring for, and believe that you can learn something positive to take forward - (Gray, 2016; Michaelson, et al, 2012)

The reality

The reality for many carers is that they feel overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed and isolated as the caring role develops. You may realise your shortcomings in providing the emotional support for your loved one that was once second nature, because you’re tired and stressed. You may feel both overlooked by the treatment team, and grateful for the care they give to your loved one. It can also be difficult to know who to turn to for support, or understand what sort of support you are looking for.  

You may feel conflicted by asking for support for fear of some of the caring role being taken away from you, or your loved one losing your support.  Or you may feel resentful of your situation because the caring is not being shared equally between a family team.  You may be confused by feelings of anticipatory grief, as you strive to continue daily routines, but realise treatment is no longer curative.  

All of these, and many more feelings are common and normal. It is so important that you do reach out for information and support when you identify these feelings.

There are a number of resources which provide help and advice including:

  • visiting the Macmillan centre at the treatment centre or call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00.
  • contact the carer’s trust
  • friends and family may be able to help in practical ways, or rotate care
  • talk to your GP about how you’re feeling
  • local hospice-for support groups bereavement care
  • CNS

Peer support

Due to the unique nature of the caring role, it can be very helpful to connect with other carers. Sharing your experience with someone who really understands, or hearing others talk about similar difficulties and how they are managing can be an invaluable resource. If time is a factor, you may find online forums a good way of being able to access these resources when it suits you. 

How can online hypnotherapy help?

There are many things we can do to increase your ability to cope and gain a more positive experience of caring for someone with cancer. Many people ask how a hypnotherapy session works; a typical session would involve some discussion and some hypnosis-hypnosis may take up 15-20 minutes of a one hour session for example.  

I will provide a safe space for you to talk openly and honestly so that I can identify what your unique caring experience is, what it is you are finding challenging, and how they would like things to be different.

Using goal development questions I can help you to become clear about what you are able to change, and what steps you would like to take to start that change process. We can also explore what is within your control as well as what you can choose to accept or let go of.  

We can also examine how the stress response works and how thoughts, feelings and behaviours are closely related.  We can find new ways of approaching or thinking about the situation so that it turns your experience from one of disempowerment and frustration, to be one of greater meaning, where you experience more calm and control.  

Hypnosis itself is a focused state of attention-you may feel relaxed but you’re always in control. I may use visualisation or breathing techniques to guide you into a calm yet focused state. This reduces feelings of stress, and is also something that you can start to use on your own outside sessions, thus increasing resilience and well-being. When you’re feeling relaxed and calm I will use some of the positive ideas or suggestions that are aligned with the therapy goals in the hypnosis. I will then guide them out of the relaxation to feel positively refreshed.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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