How I Work
On this page you’ll get a sense of my guiding beliefs and my approach to working with people.
I believe that there is no right or wrong way to “do” the cancer or survivorship journey. We each need to find our own way of coping with cancer and moving forward with survivorship. I help you to find your way, so that the cancer journey is less of a struggle when you’re going through it, and when treatment is over, you can recover from the emotional impact of cancer and move forward to create a life you truly love.
I don’t believe in treating people as labels. I use the terms “cancer patients” and “cancer survivors” on this site for clarity and ease of navigation, only because they are the most common terms and are the easiest to understand and differentiate from each other. However, I do understand that some people don’t care for the terms and don’t identify with either of them. I prefer the terminology “people living with cancer” or “people affected by cancer” to describe all of us who have had cancer in our lives, because they seem the most accurate and respectful, and the least like “labels.” So please forgive the use of the terms on this site that you might not prefer, and understand that some differentiation is necessary, as the needs for support of those currently undergoing treatment are different from the needs of those who are finished with active treatment. And please know that I understand your discomfort with labels from an insider’s perspective and will treat you as an individual, not a label.
I believe that “positive thinking” is not always the way to handle things. When we try to “be positive” or maintain a positive attitude, there can be a disconnect between our thinking and feeling. We may be forcing ourselves to think only positive thoughts and not leaving room for the true, and very justifiable, feelings we have inside. I believe we all have the right to be sad, scared, and angry about how cancer has affected our lives. If we allow ourselves the time and space to express those feelings in appropriate ways, without judgment, we can move through them and be more positive on the other side…and it will be more authentic.
I believe in working as a team toward growth and emotional healing. I don’t have all the answers that will make your life easier or better. The only expert on your life is you, and together we can work on finding the inner wisdom and expertise that will help you more clearly and realistically see how you want things to be, what’s in the way right now, and how you might be able to reach your goals.
I believe in finding what’s meaningful in life and doing what matters, despite cancer. Together we can get to the heart of the values, purpose, and meaning in your life that cancer can’t touch so that you can gain a sense of your true self and live the best life possible, in spite of a cancer diagnosis or cancer history.
I believe that, although cancer is not funny, humor is part of the journey. I sit with people through tears and anger, but also laughter. Sometimes humor about cancer or treatment is something only another cancer survivor can understand.
I have been told that I serve as a guide—a trusted guide who helps you find your way. I think of the analogy of a wilderness guide. Wilderness guides provide direction and show the way through terrain unknown to you, as they have gone there before and know the territory. I see my role as much the same–to help you find your way through the unknown territory of cancer and survivorship, because I have been there. I will accompany you through the rough times, help you regain your footing when you are slipping, and celebrate with you when you discover something new about yourself. And when we come across an area that neither of us has seen before, I will help you to locate the resources you need to get to the other side.
I draw from and integrate a number of different therapies and philosophies, including mindfulness-based therapies, cognitive behavioral therapies, existential philosophy, person-centered therapy, and transpersonal psychology. I tailor my approach to each individual’s needs. In short, we find what works best for you and use those tools to help you reach your goals.
Now that you know more about How I Work, you can read more about my Services.
To schedule a session, or set up an initial phone consultation at no charge, call me at 207-773-1143 or email at dawn[at]awakeningcounseling.com.