CALM- a new and effective form of psychotherapy. Raymond Rupert MD, MBA.
CALM is a new form of semi-structured psychotherapy developed for patients with advanced disease such as cancer. CALM has been proven to work in reducing the psychological distress of these patients. This is similar to palliative care, which reduces the suffering of those with advanced disease.
CALM is an acronym for “Managing Cancer And Living Meaningfully”. Recently, I attended a two-day workshop about the approach, led by Dr Gary Rodin, head of psychiatry at the Princess Margaret Hospital. He was masterful in demonstrating this skill set.
There were about 50 attendees. Many from around the world including Italy, Chile, Germany and Thailand. CALM is being recognized and implemented globally as a highly beneficial intervention approach.
Here is how it works. A psychotherapist has to be trained and certified in CALM.
Dr Rodin recommends that the meetings between patient and therapist be face to face, if possible. There are 3 to 6 meetings over a six month period. This is a form of brief but deep therapy.
The CALM therapy explores 4 important domains:
- symptom management and communications with care providers
- self, the relationship to important others and community engagement
- purpose, meaning and spirituality
- the future including mortality
It is the exploration of these domains that engages the patient, encourages insights and promotes shifts in thinking that decrease distress and anxiety.
Furthermore, CALM encourages double awareness. This is the ability to appreciate both sides of an issue and process the emotionality to the point of resolution and acceptance, thus creating a shift in thinking and reducing distress.
CALM has been proven to be effective with scientifically valid studies.
It is my personal opinion that the principles of CALM could be used with a variety of patients , even those without advanced disease, to enhance the therapeutic experience and achieve better outcomes.