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29 Working with dying men in a group setting
  1. Peter Kravitz
  1. Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre, Edinburgh


This workshop explores working with long-term men’s groups. It will examine the breadth of topics involved and describe the range of skills required by the facilitators.

‘My pain has stabilised – I now have to find a way of living again.’

This presentation follows someone who has always thought of themselves as the hero becoming the one who is being looked after. However gradual this transition may be, to the person experiencing it, it can seem so sudden as to be shocking.

‘In the group anything can come up. It’s people sharing experiences, good or bad, funny or sad. It’s a type of conversation that is hard to get elsewhere.’

These are typical words from one member of the weekly Men’s Group. This presentation will consider what happens when patients with an advanced cancer diagnosis begin to meet regularly in a facilitated single gender setting.

What are the ways back to finding meaning when your life is significantly abbreviated? Shifts occur and this can be challenging to follow in facilitation.

Conversation topics amongst men such as current affairs and sport flow into comparisons of how each person’s pain is treated. A dominant theme is fear of loss of control. Indeed, such issues inevitably arise between group members as well. This may provoke reaction, where a response is what is required.

What happens within the envelope of confidentiality of the group is surprising. In the privacy of a regular group, men here show that courage is a lot more than a wall-off-fear-and-battle-on approach.

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