Responding to Strong Emotions

Palliative and end-of-life care can be challenging as patients and families find themselves in new and different circumstances. They may experience a range of mixed emotions over time, some of which may be easier to face or to talk about than others.

Health professionals may be unsure how to help. For example, how do you respond when you experience a patient or family’s distress or anger first hand?

Engaging in reflective practice can help you better understand your own responses to particular situations. It can be helpful to do this with your manager / supervisor, another trusted colleague or someone external to the organisation. Many health services have Employee Assistance programs (EAP) that offer several free counselling sessions to staff and can be accessed via Human Resources' departments.

Health professionals can also participate in the Program of Experience in the Palliative Approach (PEPA), and work alongside experienced practitioners who can provide them with strategies on how to respond to the strong emotions of patients and families and how to self-care.

Related Evidence

PubMed Searches

Free Full Text Article

Websites

The PEPA website has information for Allied Health Practitioners.

Fact sheets

Fact sheets from the Palliative Care Network of Wisconsin, including:

Document

From the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre (2008), Eliciting and Responding to Emotional clues – Evidence from the Literature and Recommended Steps (5.23MB pdf).

Video


Last updated 14 February 2017