Although hope is an abstract, existential concept addressing a future time, Palliative Care patients, or patients dealing with a chronic or terminal illness, can continue to experience hope for other aspects of their lives, rather than only hope for cure or a future goal, which may not be possible. Logotherapy & Existential Anlaysis, through its meaning-centered approach and techniques, can assist the patient to connect with hope again through: finding meaning in the moment, ultimate meaning, creativity, experiences, attitude, dignity of the human spirit, life review, mountain range exercise, and legacy projects. This "Conceptual Pictograph"-handout incorporates these concepts in a visual format for clinicians and patients. Clinicians can use this tool to assist patients in seeing where they are at in terms of hope, and then use Logotherapy techniques for further exploration.
Utilizing the FACIT-SWB (Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy—Spiritual Well-Being) Scale, an assessment tool by David Cella, allows the clinician to gauge where underlying spiritual/existential issues may be significantly affecting the treatment regimen, pain issues, and overall well-being of a patient. The FACIT-SWB measures two constructs: (1) Faith and (2) Meaning and Peace/Contentment (Breitbart, W. & Heller, K. S., 2003). Having this tool, and the information it provides, gives a guide and entry point where the clinician can assist the patient. Often when the patient’s concerns are addressed through the logotherapuetic methods, and as a positive byproduct of experiencing Meaning and Self-Transcendence, the patient’s Hope and/or a sense of Spiritual Well-being is reactivated.
The role of the clinician and the Logotherapist in Palliative Care is to assist the patient in finding Hope through: symptom management and relief; improved quality of life at End-of-Life; facilitating connectedness in relationships; and assist in working through any unfinished business, possibly making amends with estranged family members or improving any broken relationship with one's spirituality; and finally, experiencing a good and peaceful death free from emotional and psychological pain and suffering. In the absence of cure, clinicians can help create hope for compassion, care, comfort and connectedness.
These Handouts are meant for Mind-Body-Spirit (bio-psycho-social-spiritual) awareness and self-help empowerment. ENJOY!
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Hope in the Face of Meaninglessness
Hope is the only beacon of light when tragedy, trauma, disruption, and despair strikes. We often lose our way in these moments, blinded by the darkness; meaninglessness can set in, producing an existential vacuum, sucking us in and holding us down. None of us are immune to life's often difficult and tragic circumstances. Can you be the beacon of hope, a torch guiding the way out of the unknown, holding the flame of life alive, for another in their moments of desperation? I am sure they will be more than happy to return the favor when they can.
Holding hands in the human condition. Don't be afraid to reach out, someone's hand is waiting for you.