Mental Health Services
Wellness of our minds, emotions and cognitive behavioral factors are an important part of the cancer journey. Your Nebraska Cancer Specialists team offers mental health services to help you be the strongest YOU in your fight against cancer.
Meeting with a mental health practitioner will offer you a “safe place” to nurture your spirit and begin to heal the challenging emotional effect of the cancer journey by focusing on healing and emotional wellness. You may also address life challenges including chronic illness, physical injury, and the countless losses and challenges that often come with cancer.
Past experience and research has shown that treating the whole person, beyond just cancer treatment, can positively influence overall outcomes. Here’s some of the ways we can support patients’ through their care:
|“Mental Wellness is the missing piece in the fight against cancer. You do so much to treat and support your physical self. You deserve the same for your emotional self!”
*Occupational therapy and mental health services are covered by most insurances
As a cancer survivor myself, I looked back on my journey and realized there was a very important piece missing – Mental Health. I often say that our medical team does a great job at surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but no one treats the spirit. That moment of realization was when I decided to go back to school, get the training and education needed to authentically sit with a patient struggling with the cancer journey. I like to say that I speak the language from both directions – as a survivor and as a Provider. It is truly my passion and my life’s work.
Mental Health support is a critical component of cancer care. Research is clear on this point. Attending to our emotional health by addressing stress management, depression, anxiety, etc. may improve the overall outcome of cancer treatment. Treating the mind, body spirit is the optimal formula. It’s important to know mental wellness support is helpful at any point on the journey, from the initial diagnosis, throughout treatment, and life after cancer. Patients often tell me “I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through this without this support.”
I earned my Master of Art degree from the University of Nebraska, Omaha. Additionally I am Board certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors and hold a Professional Counselor certification by the State of Nebraska in addition to my state license. I worked for two years at Lasting Hope Recovery Center in Omaha which really helped me learn mental illness. At the same time, I have spent the last 12 years honing my knowledge of Psycho-Oncology care by working in the community, teaching classes and attending national conferences. I feel it is critical to stay informed on current research and methodology.
HELPING!! It helps me to help others. I am often asked how I can do this emotionally exhausting work. Truly for me, it is an honor to walk beside someone who is fighting cancer, offering the support and knowledge I have. Most patients don’t feel like they can talk to friends and family about their cancer, so it feels lonely and isolating. My office becomes the safe place. The absolutely MOST exciting part of my job is to help a patient get to the point where he/she doesn’t need me anymore. Nothing better!
My favorite weekends include a long run with my dog Winston, followed by a swim in the pond (him not me).
This sounds crazy, but I REALLY love winter. I love how the snow cleanses everything. I love how the fresh, cold air wakes my senses and my body. I love watching my dog bounce through the snow and then roll in it!
It would be very hard to name just one place, I’ve been extremely fortunate in my traveling adventures. My all-time favorite is Italy – the culture, the food, the wine, the people. Peru is a close second. I have been twice, both time backpacking through the Andes mountains and walking along the ancient paths of the Incas, discovering hidden treasures that can only be accessed by hiking for days. And a close third would be a cycling trip through the Loire Valley in France, lavender fields everywhere!
The relationship with a therapist can be one of the most meaningful in a person’s life. The communication between patient and therapist is sacred; it is a “felt sense” in what an experienced therapist sees and hears that makes this relationship unique. I have had many patients tell me, “I haven’t said this to anyone else in my life” early on in therapy. I believe that’s because there is no agenda and no judgment, which creates a safe space in which to explore experiences. For cancer patients whose lives have changed so dramatically, I can see the relief in a patient’s body and facial expressions when they realize they can feel anything, think anything, and say anything in the therapy hour. In other words, they’re free to just BE. Bearing witness to that is unlike any other experience. It’s what led me to become a therapist myself.
I remember many years ago when I lived in California, sitting across from my own therapist at the time and thinking, “I could do this.” That simple thought changed the course of my life and within a couple of months, I was enrolled at Pepperdine University pursuing a Master’s in Psychology. I absolutely loved the process of psychotherapy and what I learned about myself, my family, and all of my relationships. For me, I knew I wanted to be a psychologist, so I went on to complete my Doctor of Psychology degree in Clinical Psychology. My high school friends were not surprised, in that I was known as the hometown “shrink,” listening to everyone’s problems back in the day.
I think it’s critical. I can’t imagine going through a diagnosis of this magnitude without being able to process with another person the myriad thoughts and emotions that follow. Many patients have a prior trauma history, and cancer will likely trigger other unpleasant events in one’s life when there was a trauma or a loss of control.
For my program at the California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles, it was a four year program to get a Master’s and a Doctorate, with a practicum experience, two half-time internships, and graduation followed by a full time fellowship in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy at the Fifth Ave. Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy in New York City. After that, I went on to prepare for and take the oral and written licensure exams in California, so all in all, it was six years.
Working with people who have the “Aha” moments when things come together, new insights are gained, and the road ahead seems a bit clearer. I also LOVE learning, doing continuing education, and experiencing how deepening my own understanding and insights assists patients with theirs.
I love playing violin on the worship team at our church. It’s truly a blast, and I play with a very talented, motley crew of musicians.
Fall. I’m a farmer’s daughter, and I loved the crispness of the air, and harvesting the fields with my dad.
Norway. I’m 100% Norwegian, and my sister and I made a trip to Norway, visiting the farms where our great-grandparents came from. I actually played the pipe organ in the little Lutheran church, ca. 1760, where my great-grandparents were married. That was quite a thrill.
On this episode: On March 12, 2020, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The unpredictability of this global event brought many feelings of uncertainty, fear, and worry. In this episode, our mental health providers Jane Karges PsyD and Lori Wingerter LIMH, MA, join us to discuss some coping strategies to help support feelings of stability and security as we all adapt to a new way of life and keep an optimistic attitude.
On this episode: Between the talks of treatment, surgery and radiation, the mind and spirit can get overwhelmed. In this episode we focus on the mental health of an oncology patient, their family, and their caregivers. Tune in as Lori Wingerter, Nebraska Cancer Specialists Licensed Mental Health Practitioner, discusses talking to kids about cancer, keeping an optimistic attitude, and reclaiming your life after a cancer diagnosis.
On this episode:The holidays can be particularly tough when someone is grieving. A time of year that is advertised to be “the happiest time of the year” for some can be anything but, especially when we know someone is missing. Listen in as our mental health providers suggest some ways to cope with grief, honor our loved ones, and reengage in a meaningful way.