Friday, September 9, 2011

Dignity therapy helps dying people find peace.

Alex Schadenberg
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Recently I wrote an article about the importance of Dignity Therapy, a process of helping people find peace and dignity as people approach the end of their life.

The assisted suicide lobby insists that the feeling of a loss of dignity and purpose is a good reason to die by assisted suicide or euthanasia.


While cleaning up emails I found this excellent article concerning the research by Winnipeg Manitoba psychiatrist Dr. Harvey Chochinov. The article titled: Dignity therapy helps dying find peace was written by Laura Baziuk and printed by the postmedia news in July. The article stated:
Harvey Chochinov
Canadian researchers have come up with a list of questions to help terminally ill people share their memories, hopes and regrets as they look back on their lives.


A new study, published Wednesday, conducted by those researchers in Winnipeg shows that their approach, called dignity therapy, helps terminally ill patients tend to any unfinished business and find peace in their final days.


Dignity therapy asks terminally ill people about their wishes, lessons learned and how they want to be remembered: "What are the most important roles you had in life?" "Are there specific things you want your family to know or remember about you?" "When did you feel most alive?"


The conversations with therapists are recorded and transcribed to create a permanent record, which the person can share with loved ones or leave in their will.


"Dignity therapy really tries to look at what are the sources, what are the things that might cause or undermine dignity toward the end of life," said Harvey Chochinov, lead study author, psychiatry professor at the University of Manitoba and a Canada Research Chair in palliative care.


"Some of the areas we found were, for example, a loss of sense of meaning, a loss of sense of purpose, feeling that one's life wouldn't have made a difference."


In the sessions, people give advice on how to live a happy life, apologize for past mistakes, confess regret at missed opportunities or find a new sense of meaning in what they accomplished in life.


"We've had people who've told us that dignity therapy was the only time they've ever heard a parent say that they loved them or that they felt proud of them," Chochinov said. "(The therapy) is able to offer (a sense of value) in a format that makes this accessible to even the most vulnerable."


Their study, published by The Lancet Oncology and conducted alongside researchers in New York and Australia, randomly assigned 326 terminally ill adults to receive one of three kinds of palliative care.


Patients who received dignity therapy reported more significant improvements in quality of life, spiritual well-being and sense of worth, as opposed to care that provided only physical comfort or empathetic discussions with a nurse.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition believes in the benefits and the importance of the Dignity Therapy model that has been developed by Harvey Chochinov.

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