Meaning and Purpose (MaP) therapy I: Therapeutic processes and themes in advanced cancer

Carrie Lethborg, David W. Kissane, Penelope Schofield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


ObjectiveUnderstanding the way therapy works is a complex undertaking. Historically, such enquiry has been dominated by "outcomes" leading to a lack of discourse about clinical processes. In the cancer setting, identifying clinical process can be even more complex because of the added challenges of an ongoing illness. This study investigated the therapeutic processes used in a meaning-Based intervention developed for the advanced cancer setting: Meaning and Purpose therapy.MethodFour sessions of therapy were delivered to 24 participants. Transcribed sessions (n = 96) of the intervention were analyzed by two independent researchers to describe participant themes, therapeutic processes, and patterns of change related to common points in the intervention.ResultAlthough both suffering and meaning were present in all sessions, when we tracked the focus of the content across sessions, there was a clear progressive shift toward meaning-Centered content for all participants. This finding is in spite of the fact that all participants had progressive disease and were living with ongoing challenges.Significance of resultsProcesses such as focusing on meaning, reflecting a sense of significance, joining with participants to explore their unique meaning, and directing them away from a preoccupation with suffering were identified as clear influences of a shift toward a meaning-Based focus. These processes offer a fresh focus on meaning and a buffer to the distress of advanced cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalPalliative and Supportive Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Advanced cancer
  • Distress
  • Meaning-Based intervention
  • Sense of significance
  • Suffering
  • Therapeutic processes
  • Unique meaning

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