How does a typical session of Oncolo Café proceed?

A session of our Oncolo Café normally follows this routine:

a. Simple self-introduction

The participants could use their name, but they should also feel free to use a nickname by which they would like to be called by the other participants.

b. Topical conversations

We generally discuss topics such as “What is one’s individuality?” or “What is love?” which are not directly related to the participant’s medical condition. Usually, it is the facilitator who chooses the subject, but if the participants would like to propose a different topic that they would like to discuss, it is perfectly acceptable.

Oncolo Café is not a place where we propose concrete answers about the chosen topic; it is rather a place where patients and their families can talk about questions arisen from their everyday experience, a place where they feel free to share their thoughts, listen to others’ opinions and, trusting each other’s words, try to think or rethink the central topic together. It is a place where we can take a break and reassess the issues that challenge us.

c. The development of the discussion

The facilitator and other staff members are not the center of the discussion. The facilitator guides the participants through the session, but he does not lecture during the discussion.

He aims to facilitate a meaningful exchange of ideas by trying to check the connections among the different remarks; he systematizes and arranges them and gives some input to think deeper into them.

He encourages participants express themselves, but nobody should feel forced to speak. Participants should find within themselves the words that better express what they think and feel, and the facilitator will help them during the session. However, we also value the importance and the meaning of silence.

Sometimes the participants do not feel to speak but this does not diminish the meaningfulness of the listening and the impact that other’s remarks could have on a silent participant. Being silent is just a different way to take part to the discussion.