Andrew Kneier, Ph.D.
Andrew Kneier, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who specialized over the course of his career in helping patients and families touched by cancer. Most of this work was done at the University of California, San Francisco, Comprehensive Cancer Center where he was the only clinical psychologist for many years. In a number of cancer clinics, he was an integral part of the team and met with all new patients as a routine part of the program of care. He also worked with hundreds patients in in-depth psychotherapy and led ongoing support groups for patients with colon cancer, prostate cancer, melanoma, and for husbands whose wives had cancer. All told, he met with over 7,500 patients during his full time career. He now works part time with patients through the Sierra Nevada Comprehensive Cancer Center in Grass Valley, California.
Dr. Kneier (pronounced "near") became a cancer psychologist after living through a serious cancer "scare" that occurred in his late twenties. Every three months scans were done to look for tumors in his chest or abdomen. A therapist helped him cope with the fears and depression that occurred during this difficult time. Once it was determined that it was only a scare (not the real thing) he changed careers with the aim of becoming a therapist to help others as he had been helped. Five years later he obtained his doctorate from the California School of Professional Psychology in Berkeley, CA.
Before this career change, he was on the road to becoming a professor of religious studies through the University of Chicago Divinity School. His interest in religious scholarship grew during his three years as a member of the Christian Brothers and his subsequent study of theology at the University of San Francisco, where he obtained baccalaureate and masters degrees. He feels his background in this area has helped him be attuned to the religious or spiritual questions that can come with a life-threatening disease. Download Dr. Kneier's biographical sketch
What is a cancer psychologist?
A cancer psychologist applies the knowledge and tools of clinical psychology to help people who are dealing with cancer. The kind of help that cancer patients need varies greatly from person to person, and family to family. To provide this help, a cancer psychologist must be familiar with the reality that patients are living with; he or she would know about the different types of cancer and the medical treatments for them, about the side effects of these treatments, and about the many challenges and dilemmas that people with cancer face all the time.
Most cancer patients do not have a mental illness or psychological disorder. Their problem is a medical one, -that is, their cancer. But cancer can create psychological problems, such as a haunting anxiety or a deep depression. It can also create problems within a marriage or family. The emotional needs of a spouse or family member, for example, can be at odds with what the patient needs. A cancer psychologist can also help with problems like that.