Supporting Cancer Patients through Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) with Carly Fleming | POP 871

Supporting Cancer Patients through Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) with Carly Fleming | POP 871

Do any of your clients have a cancer diagnosis? How can you provide a more nuanced therapeutic approach to clients that are overcoming cancer? Which positives can EFT specifically provide therapists who are working with clients battling cancer?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about working with people with cancer through Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) with Carly Fleming.

Podcast Sponsor: Blueprint

A photo of the Blueprint podcast sponsor is captured. Blueprint sponsor the Practice of the Practice podcast.

Providing great therapy day after day can be challenging – even for the best of us!

At Blueprint, they believe that nothing should get in the way of you doing your best work, which is why they created a platform that provides therapists with an array of clinical tools – things like therapy worksheets, intervention ideas, and digital assessments – that are designed to help you and your clients can stay connected and confident throughout the care journey. Even better, Blueprint helps streamline your documentation so that you can spend less time on your notes and more time on the things that matter.

To learn more and request a free 30-day trial, visit

Meet Carly Fleming

A photo of Carly Fleming is captured. She is a registered Psychotherapist and the owner of Everwell Counselling. Carly  is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Carly Fleming is a Registered Psychotherapist in Hamilton, Canada and is the owner of a virtual practice called Everwell Counselling. Carly spends half her time in clinical practice, specializing in supporting people dealing with cancer and grief using Emotionally Focused Therapy. The other half of her time is spent running her group practice and developing ways to support psychotherapy students and contractors in this wild and wonderful career.

Visit Everwell Counselling and connect on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

In This Podcast

  • Nuances of working with people with cancer
  • How to work well with clients battling cancer
  • Core EFT teachings
  • Carly’s advice to private practitioners

Nuances of working with people with cancer

I think everything gets incredibly intensified. So, where there was some conflict, where there was some insecurity, where there was some relationship distress, you add a cancer diagnosis and treatment into that and those things all get incredibly intensified.

Carly Fleming

This intensification that can often happen with clients that are overcoming cancer is sometimes not what they expected.

For example, some might expect that the diagnosis can help relationships to reform or become better, rather than worse if there was tension already present.

Furthermore, that threat to survival looms in the background and can add another heavy layer of tension.

The threat to the survival of the people that you love is incredibly distressing. If we look at it through an attachment lens, it is sort of a primal fear, and so that is never far away in a counseling session with somebody who has cancer or who is caring for a loved one with cancer.

Carly Fleming

How to work well with clients battling cancer

If you are working with clients that are currently battling cancer or who are caring for a loved one with cancer, realize that a stoic nature may come up that can – accidentally – suppress their emotions.

This could either be an intentional or accidental suppression, but that stoic nature to get to all the appointments, undergo tests, and get through treatment can leave little time for dealing with the emotions that are pushed underground.

Sometimes those emotions are not welcome, either.

I have found, depending on the care team, depending on the family, it’s really scary to be in the presence of that significant emotion … which can start to add to their stress.

Carly Fleming

Therefore, using an emotionally-focused therapeutic lens with clients can help equip them with the skills to process their emotions as they come and go so that additional stress can be avoided.

Returning to emotion is a natural thing and I find that clients respond to it extremely well when they’re invited to then come back and interact with their emotional experience safely, and that’s where the therapy space creates this safe, accepting, warm environment for a client to share their emotion when they may not be finding that [space] elsewhere.

Carly Fleming

Core EFT teachings

  • EFT is an attachment-based intervention: it looks at all human interactions between individuals as a seeking of connection, safety, and authenticity.
  • Through the lens of attachment, EFT looks for distress: emotional or relational tension
  • EFT can be used for any type of relational attachment between couples, parents, and children, and even (in the case of cancer patients) between doctors and the clients themselves

The two main approaches within EFT are empathic reflection and then intentional relationship restructuring (if necessary). Afterward, these new stories of attachment are consolidated.

Even in that initial assessment and intake, we are really looking for ways that the client is narrating their emotional experience to give us an idea of how accessible and safe they feel with their own sense of emotion.

Carly Fleming

With cancer work, realize that it can often be like working with grief, bereavement, or anger.

Carly’s advice to private practitioners

Tend to yourself! Therapists give so much to their clients and carry their stories of suffering. Remember to intentionally let go of what is not yours, and maintain a healthy boundary between your life and theirs.

Sponsors mentioned in this episode:

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

Thanks For Listening!

Feel free to leave a comment below or share the social media below!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.