Earlier this week, MindSpace Clinic director Dr. Joe Flanders gave a mindfulness training to the Montreal General Hospital’s Psychosocial Oncology (PSO) team. The PSO team’s psychologists provide therapy to cancer patients dealing with diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and end of life.

Mindfulness is increasingly used to help patients cope with the numerous psychosocial challenges cancer presents–including uncertainty, loss of health and autonomy, and facing mortality. There is a growing scientific literature that indicates that mindfulness training and practice helps patients cope with these and other challenges, while helping decrease symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. There is also evidence that mindfulness can have a measurable positive impact on cortisol levels, as well as immune system and cardiovascular system functioning. Much of the landmark research in this area has been conducted by Dr. Linda Carlson, a former McGill psychology graduate student and a current professor at the University of Calgary.

Dr. Flanders’ two-hour mindfulness workshop was part of the PSO team’s annual retreat, and he described the group as a pleasure to work with. “The PSO staff are talented, compassionate, and dedicated professionals who are open to learning new clinical tools to facilitate and improve patient care,” reported Flanders. PSO psychologists also provide services for patients’ close friends and family members.