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NCCN Guidelines for Patients



Distress, Version 1.2017


How distressed are you?

Experts in distress

Experts in distress

There are professionals who have completed special

training for treating distress. Some of these experts

are described next. They may work at your cancer

center or work within your community.


You may note on the Problem List that you have

spiritual or religious concerns. Some cancer centers

have a chaplain on staff. If not, your cancer care

team may know of one in the community. Many

distressed people are interested in meeting with a


A certified chaplain has finished a specific course

of training to provide chaplaincy services. They

are certified as either board-certified chaplains

or associate certified chaplains. They provide

care for issues like grief, guilt, loss of faith, and

spiritual concerns. Read Part 3 to learn more about

chaplaincy care.

Social workers

Social workers have earned either a bachelor’s or

master’s degree in social work. Some go on to earn

a doctoral degree. Oncology social workers have

been educated about cancer and trained to provide a

range of services to the cancer community.

Social workers provide help for practical and

psychosocial problems. Practical problems include

concerns about cancer, concrete needs (eg, housing,

food), concerns about school or your job, language

or cultural issues, and caregiver issues. Psychosocial

problems may be related to changes in your body,

your quality of life, family and friends, making tough

decisions, and end-of-life issues. Read Part 3 to

learn more about social work and counseling.

Psychiatric social workers are mental health

professionals. They are also called clinical social

workers. They must obtain a state license to practice.

The services provided by clinical social workers




Mental health assessments,



Education to patients and families,



Leading support groups,



Psychotherapy, and



Linking patients with community resources.