Childhood cancer has been widely viewed as a traumatic event, and traumatic stress models have become a dominant approach to understanding the experiences of children with cancer. This approach, which focused on psychopathology rather than adjustment, overlooked the generally positive adjustment of most children to this significant health challenge. The speaker presented an alternative approach, based on a view that cancer is a significant life event that represents not only a potential trauma, but also a potential catalyst for growth and positive change. This session presented some recent findings which demonstrate how subtle changes in methodology can produce significantly different outcomes, and which support our contention that resilience and psychological growth are the most common outcomes of the childhood cancer experience.
Sean Phipps, PhD
Chair, Department of Psychology
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis