The Program and the Levels
Healing Journey is a progressive, stepwise program
for cancer patients interested in doing more to help themselves, as an
addition to conventional medical treatment.
research, both at the Princess Margaret Hospital and abroad shows that
undertaking psychological self help work of this kind almost always
improves quality of life, and may in some cases help people with cancer
live much longer, as well as better. The skills learned through the
Healing Journey Program can improve communication with others, lessen
anxiety and depression, and provide a welcome sense of control.
is a progressive process which depends on a gradual increase in
understanding and "connection" with all parts of ourselves. Our classes
reflect this: there is a “core curriculum” of 3 steps or levels, each
building on the last. The 3 levels require 20 sessions in total, and
cover most of the basic ideas and skills needed for self-directed
healing. The basic course (level 1) is conducted 4 or 5 times per year,
and levels II and III, 2 times per year. Graduates of the core
curriculum may attend an ongoing, twice-monthly “follow-up” group that
deals mainly with spiritual aspects of the healing journey. In
addition, there are longer term, weekly therapy groups for people with
Alastair Cunningham, director of the program, has been involved in
cancer-related research since 1965, first as a cell biologist, and then
as a psychologist. He has been for many years a senior scientist at the
Ontario Cancer Institute, and is professor emeritus at the University
of Toronto. He has received various awards for his work on helping
cancer patients, including Officer of the Order of Canada, and the
First Rogers’ prize for ”Excellence in Complementary Medicine”. Dr
Cunningham’s research has shown how much people can do to diminish the
distress cancer brings by learning self-management techniques, and in
some cases possibly to live longer as a result. He has published a
number of books on the subject which may be accessed through this
are currently five successive steps in the Healing Journey Program.
Sessions are held regularly, and the skills learned are enhanced by
practice at home between group meetings. For patients and family
||Level 1: Coping with Cancer Stress,
includes stress management techniques such as deep relaxation, thought
control, mental imaging, emotional expression and goal setting. Once a
week for four weeks.
|Level 2: Skills for Healing,
includes self-help methods such as meditation, consulting an inner
healer, spiritual aspects of healing, journal writing and small group
discussion. Once a week for eight weeks.
|Level 3: Steps towards Spiritual
Healing, a course in understanding and diminishing the
common obstacles to spiritual experience. Once a week for eight weeks.
|Level 4: Becoming Authentic,
ten weekly sessions designed to consolidate what has been learned in
levels 1–3, and to foster the qualities we have found in people who
have greatly outlived their prognoses: authenticity, autonomy and
|Level 5: Introduction to A Course
in Miracles, a study of a profound spiritual text
concerned with healing. Once a week for nine weeks.
Discussion groups meet once weekly for graduates wishing to continue
their contact with the Healing Journey.
of us in the Healing Journey team hope that people with cancer and
their family members will go as far as possible in their journey
towards health and peace of mind.
enroll for The Healing Journey Program, located at Princess Margaret
Hospital, please phone Jan Ferguson at (416)
the Healing Journey Program is now also offered at a number of
Cancer Centres in Toronto and other parts of Canada. You can
contact Wellspring at 416-961-1928 or go to their website at www.Wellspring.ca.