Entrevista exclusiva con la psicooncóloga Alejandra Glaser

Entrevista exclusiva con la psicooncóloga Alejandra Glaser

Q. ¿Qué puede decirnos de usted, Alejandra?

A. Me llamo María Alejandra Glaser y tengo 35 años. Vivo en Mar
de Plata, provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina. Hace casi 20 años que me mudé a esta ciudad; nací en Concordia Entre Ríos. Me mudé a Mar de Plata por mi formación académica. Terminé quedándome aquí y formando una familia. Soy psicóloga desde 2006 y especialista en Psicoterapia Cognitiva desde 2009. Hice mi residencia hospitalar12241188_10206830355109977_6497879366190829523_n (1)ia en un hospital privado de la ciudad, y actualmente sigo trabajando en el departamento de Psicooncología de esta institución, dependiente del servicio de Psiquiatría y Salud Mental. También dirijo a los residentes de psicología que se forman en esta institución. Por otro lado, también dirijo mi clínica privada con pacientes adultos.

Q. ¿Por qué eligió estudiar psicología?

A. Desde pequeña, siempre he sabido escuchar y ayudar en todo lo que podía. Por ello, elegí un camino relacionado con los estudios humanísticos y de apoyo.  Decidí mudarme a Mar de Plata para estudiar psicología, a 900 km de mi casa familiar, pero donde mi hermano mayor también estudiaba. Terminé mis estudios en 2006, y desde mi primer contacto con la psicología cognitiva, y más específicamente con la psicoterapia cognitiva, supe que este era el enfoque que quería utilizar para aliviar el malestar emocional de los pacientes. Por lo tanto, estudié durante 2 años más para especializarme en psicoterapia cognitiva individual, lo que terminé en 2009. Un año antes, me incorporé a un hospital privado, donde hice mi residencia en psicología clínica. Allí fue donde conocí la psicooncología como especialidad, y también donde conocí al psiquiatra Dr. Hechen, con quien trabajo actualmente.

Q. ¿Qué servicios presta y cuáles son los más relevantes para los pacientes con cáncer?

A.Dentro del Hospital, tenemos una consulta exclusiva de psicooncología, que funciona un día a la semana y es el servicio más utilizado por los pacientes con cáncer. También hay dos grupos psicoterapéuticos, uno de ellos para pacientes de cáncer de mama y otro para los demás tipos de cáncer. Además, proporcionamos apoyo a los pacientes durante la administración de su tratamiento de quimioterapia, y también hemos participado en sesiones interdisciplinarias con el oncólogo tratante.

Q. What is the main problem when following a therapy?

A. The impact of the diagnosis is often the initial problem, and where we meet many of our patients. Managing the uncertainty of facing the diagnosis and treatment is another recurring problem. Some other main issues that cancer patients need to face are the relationship with their treating physicians, the changes in family dynamics and their social network, body image, loss of autonomy and functionality, and death.

It is also important to highlight the need for some patients to talk about their personal developments from this experience, which can be traumatic. They also need to talk about the support they receive form relatives, and in some cases, about the way to explain their situation to their children.

Q. What gender and/or age are the cancer patients you usually Young woman talking with psychologist about her problemsmeet?

 A. The patients are women in between 30 and 65 years old. The difference is not big, but I think that a reason why there are more women than men could be because women are more likely to be in touch with their own feelings.

The fact that lot of them are young makes me feel that they do have confidence in psychotherapy, psychology or psychiatry as a valid resource for help.

Q. What do you think the main benefits are for a cancer patient to see to a psychologist?  

A. The space that we provide to patients becomes a place where, for the first time, they can talk about their fears and their hopes. They may distress, cry and laugh openly, without the judgment of others. I think that being listened to empathetically and the strategies in managing uncertainty are the main benefits.

Q. What are the major obstacles that prevent some from resorting to psychological help?

A. There are many. Among others, there are myths about psychotherapy and difficulty behind expressing one’s emotions. Some patients even say…” I’m not crazy enough to go to the psychologist…”

Q. Have you ever developed “feelings or emotions” for a patient? 

A. Empathetic understanding is something that is present with patient visit. This means putting ourselves in their place and feeling what is happening to them. This is part of the basic tasks of psycho-oncology. We feel affection for our patients, we laugh with them, we cry, and we care about them, but, at the same time, our profession allows us to take enough distance to be able to act therapeutically with them.

Q. How has it affected your life being in continuous contact with cancer patients? Have you changed your perception of life?

A. Completely. Patients have taught me a lot about life, about my life goals and my priorities. Also about human communication, relationships and death.

Q. What are the most important tips you would like to share with other patients or family members who have a loved one facing cancer? 

A. I would like to suggest them to transmit and contextualize the emotional distress that they may be feeling, also to accept certain emotions that they could be faced with, to give alternatives to the catastrophic thoughts, and to enable spaces for expressing their emotions. It is important to keep in mind that there are professionals that have the therapeutic resources to alleviate their transit through this disease.  There is always hope. There is always something to do, even minutes before the dismissal.

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