Prostate Cancer is one of the most common diseases among men. However, do you know the effects of the disease often continue long after a patient is cancer-free? Some of these effects include loss of masculinity and emotional distance, which plague personal relationships.
But all hope certainly isn’t lost. Experts say that women can be a powerful force in helping men cope with their disease and can rebuild intimacy in their relationships.
One of those experts, Corliss Ivy, MA, LPC, NCC, Mind-Body Therapist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center, has counseled couples dealing with these issues. She talked to Brandi Walker about the activities she engages in with the couples, how this counseling repaired marriages, and how it could rebuild men’s masculinity.
- Tell me more about these movement-based exercises. Movement-based exercises are one way couples can experience intimacy in a non-sexual way, redefining what it means to be close with one another. For example, one exercise I frequently recommend prompts couples to sit back to back, allowing the spines to align, and to gently begin to breathe with one another. The in-sync motion occurs naturally, allowing couples to feel they are intentionally moving with one another and connected, as well as re-energize and reduce anxiety.
- How has counseling strengthened marriages? Research indicates that couples who receive therapeutic support deepen their intimate connection, increase communication, and find overall greater life satisfaction. I have the privilege of working with couples to create a safe, caring environment in which we focus solely on the needs, concerns, and ideals for their relationship. Concrete tools I use with patients at CTCA include encouraging couples to create routines or engage in intimate activities that can bring them closer together. A simple action like kissing or hugging before couples depart for the day and again when they reunite is a powerful habit to build.
- How has counseling help men emotionally among other people outside the opposite sex? We know that when an individual’s needs are being met, that person will function better in every aspect of life. When I work with patients, my goal is to build a relationship with each person so that together we can safely process concerns, questions, and work out any obstacles that may hinder their ability to take good care of themselves. Through counseling, we are also able to identify patterns of thoughts or behavior that the patient may experience as problematic, and explore ways to understand and address them, supporting many different kinds of relationships beyond those of the opposite sex or those with whom we are intimate.
- How has this counseling help men regain their masculinity? Many men come into an experience like prostate cancer with questions and concerns, ranging from possible treatment options and their prognosis, to how this kind of a loss may affect their loved ones and their lifestyle. In my role as a Mind-Body Therapist, I provide a space where we can explore their definition of “masculinity,” allow for grief when needed, and help look for answers to those questions or methods for coping with the changes they may experience -positive or negative-while going through cancer.
For more information on Ivy and the mind-body medicine department, visit http://www.cancercenter.com/midwestern/doctors-and-clinicians/corliss-ivy/