n CME : Your SA Journal of CPD - Cognitive behaviour therapy for psychosomatic disorders : main topic

Volume 21, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0256-2170



CBT is an effective intervention in a range of medical settings. Physical symptoms are an intrinsic part of the model in a way that does not allow for a simplistic mind-body split. Health-related anxieties cause enormous distress and impairment - whether the anxieties are realistic, exaggerated, or totally unfounded. The cognitive behavioural style of collaborative empiricism fits with the medical / scientific model and implicitly encourages the patient to take responsibility for self-management. Patients with excessive anxiety show a typical pattern of dysfunctional thoughts. Patients who are excessively anxious about their health typically develop a range of dysfunctional coping behaviours, including avoidance, checking and reassurance seeking, which have the effect of maintaining their anxiety. Patients with functional somatic symptoms frequently resist psychological interventions. Considerable skill may be required to engage with such a client. CBT uses a wide range of techniques to address the 'dysfunctional thoughts' and 'safety behaviours' encountered in health-related anxiety.

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