Surf to Wellness

Cancer Center offers Complementary Therapy online

Patients come to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center from all over the region, from the northern tips of the Upper Peninsula to southern Ohio, and everything in between. By the end of a long and stressful day of doctors' appointments, blood draws and infusion, the last thing on their minds is sticking around town for an art therapy session.

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That's why the Cancer Center is making more services available through its website.

"Our goal is to expose patients to new ways of coping," said Donna Murphy, director of Complementary Therapies. "One of the benefits of being a patient at a comprehensive cancer center like the University of Michigan is that we offer a wide range of support services, such as Art Therapy, Guided Imagery, Music Therapy and Creative Writing. We want everyone to be able to take advantage of them."

Research has proven that each of the complementary therapies offered at the Cancer Center assists in healing and coping. Patients often report that they have an improved sense of well-being and less anxiety after participating in complementary therapy programs.

To begin, the Cancer Center will offer the following options online:

Guided imagery audio library:
Claire Casselman, a trained social worker who provides guided imagery, leads patients through a gentle meditative experience to help patients find a better sense of calm and well-being.

Art therapy videocast:
Certified art therapist Margaret Nowak presents simple projects patients can make in the comfort of their own home using common arts and craft supplies.

Music therapy library:
Certified music therapist Megan Gunnell helps patients relax using the power of music.

Patients who participate in complementary therapy online may wish to pursue it in person as well, Murphy said.

"Complementary therapies help patients develop skills that they can use throughout their lives-whether it's in the midst of cancer treatment or for general well-being," Murphy said. "Once you learn how to use them, they become lifelong coping tools."

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Thrive Issue: 
Summer, 2009