Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Counselor Education


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Paradise, Louis V.

Second Advisor

Bedford, April W.

Third Advisor

Pearman, Timothy P.

Fourth Advisor

Hulse-Killacky, Diana


The purpose of the study was to describe the personal experience of individuals undergoing cancer treatment in an outpatient clinic by examining their perceived supportive care needs. The theoretical basis of the study lies in Alfred Adler's holistic view of human beings as unique and indivisible (1927/1954). Six individuals recently diagnosed with cancer were recruited from the same regional outpatient cancer clinic located at a major university medical center. A semi-structured interview process with open-ended questions was utilized to understand how people individually and collectively experience cancer and cancer treatment. The 17 factors of the wellness model (Witmer, Sweeney, & Myers, 1998) were used to assess the perceived supportive care needs of the study's participants. Data were analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, 1998) to ascertain emergent themes and interpret the meanings of the perceptions patients have of their cancer experience. The data resulted in eight major themes being present including facing mortality; uncertainty about the future; understanding cancer diagnosis and treatment; reliance on faith; maintaining control; love and support from family; physical impact of cancer; and importance of self-care. These themes provide insight into the perceived supportive care needs that patients experience during cancer treatment. With the exception of cultural and gender domains, the holistic assessment process identified patients' needs. The factors of wellness appear to capture the experience of individuals during cancer treatment. As an approach to assessing the coping skills of cancer patients, the wellness model seems appropriate for use by clinical mental health counselors. Implications for counselor theory, training, and practice with this unique client population are discussed.


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