Caregivers are an essential part of the care team for every person who has cancer. Though caregivers aren’t personally going through treatment, we understand that the demands they experience can often be quite difficult and stressful. At MSK, we want you to know that as a caregiver, you are never alone.
The Caregivers Clinic, a special program of MSK’s Counseling Center, offers you counseling from our psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners from the comfort of your home in a secure and supportive online environment. We give you resources and coping strategies to help you provide care to your loved one while caring for your own emotions, changing needs, and other important life responsibilities, such as working a full-time job or looking after children or other family members.
Our trained counselors are experienced in providing therapy and support for caregivers of MSK patients who have all types and stages of cancer. We provide counseling to individuals, groups, families, and those grieving the loss of a loved one.
Services at the Caregivers Clinic
In 2011, MSK opened the Caregivers Clinic — the first service of its kind in the world — and our model is now being replicated by other cancer hospitals. Led by Allison J. Applebaum, PhD, our specialized staff focus on the well-being of caregivers while they navigate the different stages of a loved one’s cancer journey at MSK.
Our services include but are not limited to:
- Individual counseling, in which you can receive care in one-on-one sessions with therapists tailored to address your unique needs. Sessions frequently focus on addressing symptoms of anxiety and depression, helping you to communicate effectively with your loved one who has cancer and their healthcare providers, and helping you take care of yourself while also caring for your loved one.
- Group counseling, where you can receive care in small, closed group sessions for a set number of weeks with other caregivers who are experiencing similar cancer- and caregiving-related challenges.
- Family counseling, a way for caregivers who receive individual counseling in the Clinic to have several sessions together with their loved one. Sometimes caregivers find these sessions to be beneficial since they often focus on advanced care planning and communicating about the future. For caregivers who are interested in having more ongoing family support, services are available through the Family Therapy Clinic.
- The opportunity to participate in clinical trials for caregivers that are not available anywhere else. As part of a clinical trial, you may be offered new ways for dealing with anxiety and depression, communicating clearly and effectively with loved ones and doctors, and improving quality of life during the cancer care journey. Any caregiver of an MSK patient may enroll in a clinical trial for free if they meet the criteria, regardless of whether you receive counseling at our Caregivers Clinic. For more information about current clinical trials and to enroll, please call 646-888-0200 or contact [email protected].
- Complete confidentiality through a caregiver registration process and medical record set up just for you — separate from the record of your loved one receiving treatment at MSK. Our counseling sessions are also covered in-network for most major health insurance plans. And if they’re not, we’ll work with you to find a solution.
Additional Support for Caregivers
Along with the Clinic’s services, MSK offers resources for caregivers through our Department of Social Work and volunteer services support groups, including:
- Our Virtual Caregiver Support Group, where you can discuss the stresses, challenges, and rewards of providing care for someone with cancer. This is also a good way to discuss difficult or complex topics like financial struggles, making sense of life, and balancing challenges and competing responsibilities with the rewards of caring for a loved one. You can register directly on the group’s page on www.mskcc.org/vp or by emailing [email protected].
- The Caregiver-to-Caregiver program, which pairs you with another caregiver who may be able to understand what you’re going through and help you navigate your own experience. Our trained volunteers listen, talk, and offer confidential support before, during, and after cancer treatment. Call 212-639-5007 and leave a message with your name and the best time to call you, or email us at [email protected].
It’s perfectly normal to feel tired, overwhelmed, or sad during the caregiving journey. If these symptoms begin to affect your ability to provide care for your friend or loved one, we’re here to provide support.
Call us today at 646-888-0200 to start the conversation.