Going through a cancer diagnosis, whether as a patient or caregiver, can be a very challenging and stressful time. Periods of chronic stress can take an emotional and physical toll on patients and caregivers. This can often lead to an exacerbation of stress-related symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, or insomnia and can make one vulnerable to stress-related illnesses such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and depression. Neuroscience research shows that implementing self-care practices into your daily life can buffer the negative physical and psychological effects of stress, reduce stress-related illnesses and improve health outcomes and quality of life.
Miami Cancer Institute is pleased to offer the highly regarded Harvard Medical School, Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine SMART™ workshop. This 8-week stress-management-and-resiliency-training program is based on the pioneering work of cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson, whose research in the 1960s led to the scientific identification of the relaxation response, our body’s innate physiological antidote to the stress response. Building from this foundation, the SMART™ program at Miami Cancer Institute empowers cancer patients with self-care strategies and critical tools to effectively cope and adapt to life beyond cancer.
Through this program, patients will:
- Practice and implement a spectrum of mind-body techniques that elicit the relaxation response, our internal buffer to stress.
- Increase self-awareness regarding each individual’s unique stress response and the impact of stress on one’s thoughts, emotions and behaviors.
- Develop a language of positive thoughts and beliefs that allows adaptive perspectives to emerge, thus promoting a sense of control, acceptance and well-being.
- Discover healthy lifestyle practices that cultivate resiliency, including healthy eating, physical activity and restorative sleep.
- Explore other key elements of resiliency such as social connectedness, humor, creative expression and gratitude.
Interested patients will have an individual pre-assessment consultation with one of our psychiatric-oncology clinicians to determine eligibility for enrollment. Once enrolled, participants will attend an 8-week workshop consisting of 2-hour group sessions each week. These sessions are interactive and follow a structured curriculum led by our SMART™ certified instructors. Participants will receive a comprehensive program manual and all necessary materials upon registration.
“This program helped me understand how to release my stress, how to sustain a lower heart rate and slow my breathing.”
“I have really put the SMART program to work. I never imagined, after what I went through, that my daughters would have to go through this, too.” Today, when her mind races and she feels overwhelmed, she uses her breathing techniques and visualization. “I can actually see my heart rate slow down on my Apple watch.”
M. Beatriz CurrierM. Beatriz Currier, MD
M. Beatriz Currier, MD, serves as Medical Director of the Cancer Patient Support Center and Chief of Psychosocial Oncology at Miami Cancer Institute/Baptist Health South Florida. The Cancer Patient Support Center addresses the needs of the whole patient during cancer treatment and into survivorship to improve the quality of life and health outcomes of cancer patients. Dr. Currier attended medical school at the University of South Florida College Of Medicine. She served a residency in psychiatry at the University of Miami School of Medicine/Jackson Memorial Medical Center and a fellowship in Psychosomatic Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her current research interests include investigating the impact of systemic inflammation associated with major depression on cancer outcome, and identifying risk factors associated with cancer-related cognitive impairment and effective strategies to mitigate this syndrome. Dr. Currier has published extensively and served as principal investigator on numerous clinical research trials to determine the efficacy and safety of antidepressant pharmacotherapy in medically ill patients. Dr. Currier has been trained in and certified to offer the Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART)™ program of Harvard Medical School Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine.
Aileen MorenoAileen Moreno, LCSW
Aileen Moreno, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker with extensive experience in oncology. Aileen has worked as a psychotherapist at Miami Cancer Institute with adult cancer patients and survivors referred for short-term cognitive behavioral therapy or grief counseling. She has also worked as a Psychometrician at MCI with both adult and pediatric cancer patients and survivors referred for neuropsychological testing to assess for cancer-related cognitive impairment. Additionally, Aileen has provided mindfulness meditation training for MCI staff and patients receiving psycho-oncology care. She has previously worked as a medical social worker in the hospital setting and also worked for the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Florida International University. Aileen has been trained in and certified to offer the Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART)™ program of Harvard Medical School Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine.
Kristina EspinosaKristina Espinosa, Psy.D., PMH-C
Kristina Espinosa, Psy.D., PMH-C, is an accredited clinical psychologist at Miami Cancer Institute and has been trained in and certified to offer the Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART)™ program of Harvard Medical School Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine. Dr. Espinosa specializes in providing evidence-based, integrative and individually tailored psychotherapy that focuses on the biological, social and psychological factors that influence health and wellness. She uses a combination of methods and tools from mindfulness-based psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, attachment theory and trauma-focused therapies. She completed her doctoral training at Nova Southeastern University, externships and internships at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Nicklaus Children’s, and Broward Health Medical Center and her fellowship at Boston Children’s, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Espinosa has published on the associations of psychological distress on the mind and body with focus on advocacy and interventional initiatives. Dr. Espinosa helps patients find meaning through life’s most difficult transitions and hardships, including cancer, chronic illness, grief, pregnancy and infertility, trauma and relationship challenges. She is honored to walk alongside her patients in their cancer journeys and assist patients within a mind-body health approach to booster resiliency and quality of life.
This program is designed to assist patients who have completed cancer treatment by providing critical tools to help them cope with the experience of their diagnosis and treatment as well as adjust to life after treatment. During each group session, we will introduce a variety of mind-body strategies to help you adapt to and navigate some of the challenges that you may experience with the transition to cancer survivorship as well as other ongoing life challenges. We will also introduce other practical strategies for managing life stress and developing healthy physical activity, nutrition and sleep habits. You will be encouraged to practice these strategies regularly throughout each week.
The program is geared towards adults who have completed their cancer treatment, and their primary caregivers. For more information about whether this program is the right fit for you, please call us at 786-527-8359.
Conversations during sessions might naturally focus on the challenges of cancer survivorship. However, we also often talk about other chronic stressors and goals. Importantly, this program encourages you to set goals and build skills that will be most relevant to you.
This is an 8-week program and we invite participants to join for the full 8 weeks. New groups start approximately every 3 months. Please call us at 786-527-8359 for information about the next group start date.
We understand that things often come up that may make it difficult for you to attend – that’s ok! If you have to miss a session, let your group facilitator know prior to the session either via email or phone. Several sessions do build on skills learned from earlier sessions, so we encourage you to review any missed material before the next session.
Yes, we offer the program to adults who receive their cancer care at Miami Cancer Institute.
There is a one-time $150 fee due upon registration. This includes a participant manual which you will receive during the first group session.
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