Client Services – Groups & Programs

Held on a regular basis for clients and their carers, each group is facilitated by a qualified practitioner, counsellor and/or registered nurse.  All members are welcome to attend any of the Support Groups.

Art Therapy

Art Therapy is the therapeutic use of art within a professional relationship and works across health & medical fields.  Art therapy is rapidly gaining popularity for people who are experiencing illness or trauma, and be people who are interested in personal development. Creating art and reflecting on the experience lets people find:

  • an increased sense of awareness of self and others
  • copy more easily with symptoms, stress & traumatic experiences
  • enhance cognitive abilities
  • enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of being creative and having fun

Art therapy groups are small, intimate and confidential.  They allow people with similar experiences to come together over a number of weeks in a non-judgmental, friendly and respectful group environment.

"But I can't draw!"

Art Therapy is about the process of making art, not the final product.  No art experience is necessary to benefit from this process.  Art therapy is suitable for people of all ages.  It is not about art techniques but rather using art materials and the creative process to bypass verbal defences and connect with our inner wisdom and strengths.  The therapist's role is one of guidance, rather than interpretative or analytic.

These groups are suitable for people who are:

  • currently living with or have had any kind of cancer
  • caring for someone with cancer
  • finished intensive treatment

Gentle Yoga

Over the past decade more and more studies have shown the benefits of yoga. Here’s 4 fabulous reasons why you might like to try therapeutic yoga:

  • Improves sleep - Research has found yoga to help improve sleep quality, efficiency, and duration
  • Lowers fatigue - A comprehensive study showed that there was 57% decreased fatigue, and up to 20% decreased inflammation in breast cancer patients, 6 months after the study began
  • Promotes relaxation and helps manage stress - regular yoga practice lowers cortisol (the “stress hormone”) levels and blood pressure, and increases serotonin and endorphin production
  • Promotes circulation and the flow of lymph - Australian research has shown how yoga movements and breathing promote the flow of lymph, and can even be used to help manage lymphoedema.

Our teacher Helen Laird has over 12 years experience in therapeutic yoga and specialist training from Australia’s leading Yoga for Lymphoedema researcher. Classes combine gentle movement with breathing and are tailored to your needs. For more information please call Helen on 0404 180 481.

Lymphoedema Support Group

Providing an opportunity to discuss any issues you may be facing with Lymphoedema and strategies for coping with it.

Alternating monthly between our Blue Mountains and Penrith Valley centres, on the third Friday of each month.  Please check the calendar for details.

Mindfulness Meditation

This mindfulness meditation course is based on the famous Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979.  It teaches the art of mindfulness and develops the ability to meditate.  Research shows that regular mindfulness practice is effective in reducing stress and thereby improving immune function and health outcomes.  It may positively impact mental function, reduce levels of anxiety and depression, and help us deal more effectively with chronic pain.  Best outcomes can be expected when participants undertake the recommended home practice of 45 minutes, six days per week for the duration of the course.

In each session there will be guided mindfulness practice.  Sitting, lying and movement practices can be adapted to individual physical limitations.  Sessions include discussions on meditation practice, emotional regulation and experiential work with reducing patterns of stress reactivity.  All activities are optional and you will be encouraged to choose the level of participation that works for you.

Mindfulness Meditation in 8 sessions

  1. Mindfulness Fundamentals: paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.  Mindful awareness of the body.
  2. Perception & Creative Responding: it's not the stressors themselves, but how you handle them, which determines their effect.
  3. There is pleasure & power in being present: attitudinal foundations, the nature of what we think is real, and understanding our responses to pleasant and unpleasant experience.
  4. What is Stress? A little neurophysiology.  Using mindfulness to reduce the negative effects of stress reactivity.
  5. Mindfulness of thoughts & emotions: Stuckness, conditioned reactions and escapes -v- mindful responses.
  6. Mindfulness in everyday life:  Interpersonal mindfulness, staying present under stressful conditions.
  7. Mindfulness in everyday life: Making conscious choices, trying new perspectives.
  8. Review, keeping up the practice, where to from here.

Notes on the content of each session are provided, along with audio guided meditations to use at home.

Movement, Stretching & Meditation for all

Come join a gentle class that will mobilise all your major joints, lightly stretch your large muscle groups plus give you peaceful thoughts by doing a short meditation too!

Music will help us flow, spiral and stretch – all of the movements can be done in a chair & about half the class will be supported movement while seating.  (your music requests are most welcome).

The goal of the class is to feel fabulous! 

No special clothes, equipment or anything needed.  This class is open to all fitness levels, all levels of health, all ages. You will be comfortable, the moves will be easy to follow, you can do as much or as little as suits you. If there are people looking to be more energetic – we can accommodate that too.

Support Group

“but I have to put on a brave face, I don’t want my family to worry ..”
“some days I just don’t feel like visitors but I don’t feel I can be rude and not see them”
“.. this is all my fault”

These thoughts and others like them are normal but are they helpful?

At times these past two years would have seemed like a never ending roller coaster ride of emotions, bouncing up and down and all the time trying to look absolutely okay.  How many times have you heard yourself say, “I’m fine”, “Yes, I’m good, thank you.”  It is such a relief to learn it is okay to say what it is really like for you. It is also a relief to hear others say they have the same thoughts and feelings.

A support group enables you to say it all out loud, what you feel, what you think, share your highs and lows in the knowledge that you will be heard by others who experience so much the same as you.  This support group is specifically for those who have received their diagnosis within the last two years.

The facilitator, Viv Maitland is a Counsellor/Psychotherapist her role is to create a welcoming, safe and confidential space in which you can freely navigate your way to feeling comfortable to share.

Qi Gong

Qigong is a mind-body approach developed over 5000 years ago. Increasingly, this ancient practice, well known in China, is being used in the West as a way to develop health and wellbeing in the general population. It uses physical activity and meditation to harmonise the body, mind and spirit (Oh, Butow, Mullen, Clarke, Pavlakis, Kothe, Lam and Rosenthal, 2010).

Almost anyone can learn to practice Qigong because it is a simple and easy exercise. The word Qigong is a combination of two concepts - qi is the vital energy of the body and gong is the skill of working with the qi. Medical qigong for health and healing consists primarily of meditation, physical movements and breathing exercises.  (Sancier, 2006).

Weekly Qigong sessions at Cancer Wellness Support involve a 10 minute discussion reporting on participants’ practice during the week; 10 minutes breathing and mindfulness meditation practice, either sitting or standing; 30 minutes gentle stretching and Qigong exercises in standing posture to stimulate the energy channels; 20 minutes serenity visualisation, mindfulness meditation practice or viewing an excerpt from a DVD demonstrating Qigong; 10 minutes closure discussion.

Patrice Thomas has studied Tai Chi-Qigong for over 15 years in Australia. She is also a trained Mindfulness Based Cognitive Training Practitioner and a YWCA Encore Coordinator (floor and hydrotherapy exercises for after breast cancer care). Patrice, a cancer survivor herself, is a teacher, university lecturer, popular presenter, published author and pioneer of stress management and relaxation programmes for children and the adults who care for them – recognised in Australia and overseas.