cancer, family, family therapy


This study was designed to gain a greater understanding of the effects cancer has on families while simultaneously developing family therapy interventions that are helpful for families experiencing the crucible of cancer. On the basis of an action research paradigm, the authors designed an intensive case-analysis protocol involving reflective interviewing to learn about the personal perspectives of family members who participate in therapeutic treatment for cancer. An integration of reflective insight by the families, their therapist, and the research team ultimately revealed that cancer families face an ongoing struggle (a) between feelings of isolation and connectedness, (b) to make meaning of cancer in their life, and (c) to find ways of incorporating cancer into their current world view. The study also revealed shared experience building and interactive psychoeducation to be the most significant components of the therapeutic treatment process for cancer families.

Original Publication Citation

Robinson, W. D.,Carroll, J. S., & Watson, W. L. (2005). Shared Experience Building Around the Family Crucible of Cancer. Families, Systems, and Health, 23, 131-147.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Families, Systems, & Health




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor