About Dignity Therapy

When ageing and illness start taking a toll, life may start appearing more as a burden, than as a blessing. Physical complaints, tiredness and dependency on the care of others may lead to feelings of uncertainty, fear, depression, and social withdrawal. A decline in self-esteem, quality of life, and hope often are unnecessary consequences.

The Canadese psychiatrist H.M. Chochinov, originally developed Dignity Therapy to alleviate the emotional, existential and spiritual needs of oncological patients. Dignity Therapy offers a breakpoint opportunity to remind and celebrate those priceless experiences that build up a person, retain them in a document and share them with loved ones.

Dignity Therapy is a brief life review psychotherapy consisting of three sessions.
  1. The first session (45 min) contains a preparation and instruction
  2. The second session (60 min) entails an interview with a trained Dignity Therapist. During this interview, we discuss moving memories and valuable experiences. Based on an edited transcript of the interview, a personal document is produced.
  3. In the third session (60 min), a draft document is discussed and completed together. 
An increasing amount of research indicates that Dignity Therapy has benefitted many patient and healthy populations around the globe, including countries like Canada, Germany, Denmark, Portugal, Japan and Australia. Dignity Therapy has helped people with cancer, dementia, and motor neurone disease, but also healthy elderly people in care homes to enjoy the last stage of life with grace and gratitude.

Dignity Therapy may help: 
  • Relieve feelings of anxiety, depression, guilt or regret. 
  • Increase acceptance, and return a sense of control.
  • Return a feeling of confidence and orientation.
  • improve relationships and work out conflicts.   
  • Pass on a message of hope and commitment to loved ones in the future.
  • Document information about a person's needs, interests, and personality that helps support quality of care.

Positive results with people with an incurable cancer in Switzerland encouraged us to now investigate: Dignity Therapy in patients with Early Stage Dementia.

In Dignity Therapy we look at what has been, is and should remain to make sense of the things ahead of us. Dignity therapy provides a unique chance to identify, retain, celebrate and share the best that life has had to offer. Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches can't.