Alumni Spotlight: Kathryn Thibedeau, PsyD, Brings Therapy and Support to Clients Throughout Their Cancer Journeys

Photo of alumna Kathryn Thibedeau in a white Lahey Hospital coat

Kathryn Thibedeau, 2020 graduate of the Clinical Psychology PsyD program with a concentration in clinical health psychology, is now a clinical psychologist in the Hematology and Oncology department at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center. This position, which she was “thrilled” to find, allows her to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients and their caregivers. Thibedeau provides individual therapy to clients during this time of uncertainty, fear, anxiety, depression, grief, and many more complicated emotions.

“My caseload consists of young adults in their early 20’s to older adults in their 80’s and 90’s. They are in different stages of their life but could be experiencing similar emotions,” explained Thibedeau. “Patients may be grieving the loss of the future they envisioned for themselves. They may also be grieving losses associated with changes in physical, occupational, and social functioning as a result of their disease and treatment.”

Since joining Lahey in March 2022, Thibedeau and her colleagues have been seeking to expand the support that they provide and have started several therapy groups, two of which (the breast cancer and young adult therapy groups) are led by Thibedeau.

“My role involves validating and normalizing patients’ emotional experiences,” said Thibedeau. “This is one of the reasons why groups are so helpful—a patient can hear someone else articulate a feeling they may be having too.”

Thibedeau’s interest in the intersection of physical and psychological health is what initially drew her to William James College and, specifically, the clinical health psychology concentration and field education opportunities she could experience during her education.

"As [William James] students, we have such a great variety of clinical experiences,” Thibedeau explained. “My second-year practicum was at a nonprofit called Facing Cancer Together, which was my first exposure to the field of psychosocial oncology…[and] ended up being an incredible training experience.”

In her third year, Thibedeau trained at UMass Medical Center working on their inpatient health psychology consultation-liaison team which, she said, not only provided a strong foundation for her fourth-year practicum in primary care at Lynn Community Health Center, but also her current role at Lahey.

“Working alongside primary care physicians and addressing the psychosocial needs of patients with various medical and psychological concerns helped prepare me for my current role,” she said.

Thibedeau has even found that her doctoral project research often comes up in her current work. Entitled “Post-traumatic Growth and its Effect on Death Anxiety in Cancer Survivors,” her doctoral project studied some of the positive outcomes of adverse experiences.

Thibedeau explained that cancer survivors may notice that they have deepened spirituality or improvements in their relationships: “Although patients and caregivers are going through very challenging times with their mental health, there may also be these elements of post traumatic growth and when I point that out to my patients it can be very empowering.”


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