Current Psychiatry Reports

, 16:488 | Cite as

Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy: A Form of Psychotherapy for Patients With Cancer

  • Lori P. Montross Thomas
  • Emily A. Meier
  • Scott A. Irwin
Complex Medical-Psychiatric Issues (MB Riba, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Complex Medical-Psychiatric Issues


Caring for patients with cancer involves addressing their myriad physical, psychological, social, and spiritual needs. Although many cancer treatments focus on physical or psychological needs, few treatments specifically target the basic need for meaning and spiritual well-being in this population. This article describes the creation and evolution of a new psychotherapy devoted to these needs, a therapy termed "meaning-centered psychotherapy.” In this article, a detailed description of meaning-centered psychotherapy is provided. An explanation of the current research findings related to this treatment are also offered, with information about the various group and individual treatments as well as the new expansions for use with cancer survivors or nursing staff. Overall, meaning-centered psychotherapy shows promise for enhancing meaning and spiritual well-being among patients with cancer and offers exciting possibilities for future research in other areas.


Cancer Existentialism Meaning Psychosocial oncology Psychotherapy Spirituality 



Work supported by grants from the American Cancer Society: MRSG-13-233-01-PCSM and the Westreich Foundation (Dr. Lori Montross Thomas), as well as the National Institute of Mental Health K23MH091176 (Dr. Scott Irwin).

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Lori P. Montross Thomas, Emily A. Meier, and Scott A. Irwin declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lori P. Montross Thomas
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Emily A. Meier
    • 1
  • Scott A. Irwin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Moores Cancer Center, Psychiatry & Psychosocial Services; Patient & Family Support ServicesUniversity of California, San DiegoSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of California, San DiegoSan DiegoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Family & Preventive MedicineUniversity of California, San DiegoSan DiegoUSA

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