“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Nietzsche
All life transitions can prompt a greater awareness of what is important in an individual’s
existence – what really matters, what helps them through the day and what brings
joy. Research has found that the presence of meaning in a person’s life increases its quality
and, in the setting of cancer can be predictive of wellbeing. However, an event such as a
cancer diagnosis can also ‘awaken’ death anxiety and concerns over meaninglessness. It
stands to reason then that having a meaning-based focus in the work we do with people
living with life threatening illnesses can be pertinent to their wellbeing.
Meaning based work fits the social work focus on the person within the situation they are
challenged with. While ‘MaP Therapy’ (Lethborg et al, 2019) offers a manualised intervention
developed for the advanced cancer population, many of us do aspects of this work in our
This webinar will present key findings of meaning based coping research and how they are
relevant to clinical care including how meaning-based interventions can be used in a variety
of settings for patients and family members alike.
Lethborg C, Kissane DW, Schofield P. Meaning and Purpose (MaP) therapy I: Therapeutic processes
and themes in advanced cancer. Palliative Support Care. 2019;17(1):13-20.
Dr Carrie Lethborg is the Manager of the Inclusive Health Research Program for St Vincent’s Health Australia – focusing on improving national outcomes for vulnerable populations in general hospital settings.
Carrie has been a cancer social worker for over 30 years and still holds a position of clinical leader in Social Work at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, is a specialist counselor for the Breast Cancer Network Australia’s (BCNA) Secondary Breast Cancer service and provides debriefing for helpline staff at BCNA and Ovarian Cancer Australia. Carrie has held honorary research fellowships at Monash Medical Centre, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the University of Melbourne.