Using Archetypes and Transitions Theory to Help Patients Move From Active Treatment to Survivorship

Patrice Rancour

cancer survivorship, quality of life, spirituality
CJON 2008, 12(6), 935-940. DOI: 10.1188/08.CJON.935-940

Nurses historically have used the medical model to assess and intervene when individuals move transitionally into and out of the role of patients with cancer. Although assessing for clinical depression or other medical model designations is appropriate, using this as the sole model for helping patients with cancer emerge from their illness experiences and into the role of survivorship may rob them of the opportunity to actively use the illness for spiritual growth and self-actualization. The transition process is classified into three distinct stages: endings, the neutral zone, and beginnings. Each is characterized by its own unique qualities and challenges. Jungian metaphors and archetypes also can be used to evoke powerful images that help survivors find depth of meaning in their suffering and enhance healing. Nurses often are in ideal positions to create such healing experiences by helping survivors recognize "shadow" emotional experiences stemming from the recovery process, accepting the emotions as normal transitional phenomena, and using them to develop compassion for others. Individuals, therefore, are presented with opportunities to imagine newly emerging life purposes that far exceed their identification as survivors.

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