A significant portion of the oncology population is seeking, yet not receiving, adequate psychological treatment. Therefore, the Internet has become an important resource for delivering services to those that may be limited by barriers that accompany traditional oncology support groups. While research has shown that online therapy is effective, the quality and efficacy of therapy is often unknown and/or sub-optimal and essential psychological care cancer patients deserve is compromised. The purpose of this project was to provide therapists and other mental health professionals with a structured, evidence-based guide to providing quality mental health care for cancer patients. First, a review of the literature focused on meta-analyses that targeted psychosocial interventions for cancer patients, online therapy, and what has been done thus far with online interventions specifically for the oncology population is presented. Key ingredients identified as superior in outcome measures and clinical effectiveness include interventions that are more interactive, last 12-weeks or longer, incorporate cognitive-behavioral, educational and existential aspects, are facilitated by psychologists with more clinical experience, and target cancer patients experiencing emotional distress. Next, a facilitation manual is outlined. Observations and clinical remarks found in this manual were written based off of this writer's one-year doctoral practicum experience as the primary facilitator for Health-Space.net., an online psychosocial support group for cancer patients and survivors that was created in accordance with the aforementioned relevant research premises. The manual was designed to outline how to create an online identity as a therapist, what to expect in an online environment, and how to manage first interactions with group members. Further, it explains twelve modules that are implemented into the group on a weekly basis; the content of the modules, as well as participant reactions and advantageous facilitator responses are discussed. Next, different components of the group are outlined, such as the discussion board, blogging tool, and the chat. Various themes, clinical responses and challenges/solutions are presented. Termination and the creation of the Alumni Group are described and personal conclusions are summarized.
School of Behavioral Health
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Year Degree Awarded
Date (Title Page)
Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings
Online Health Resources; Mental Health - Computer Network Resources; Cancer; Online Support; Group Processes; Social Netowrks
Subject - Local
Oncology Patients, Online Psychosocial Support, Cancer - Treatment - Manuals, Cancer Patients - Mental Health, Psychological Distress, Online Psychosocial Resources
Loma Linda University Libraries
This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.
Richards, Kristen Mallory, "Online Psychosocial Support for Oncology Patients: A Group Facilitation Manual" (2013). Loma Linda University Electronic Theses, Dissertations & Projects. Paper 148.
Loma Linda University Electronic Theses & Dissertations
Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives