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Temple, N. Walker, J. Evans, M. (1996). Group Psychotherapy with Psychosomatic and Somatising Patients in a General Hospital. Psychoanal. Psychother., 10(3):251-268.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 10(3):251-268

Group Psychotherapy with Psychosomatic and Somatising Patients in a General Hospital

Nicholas Temple, Jill Walker and Marcus Evans

This paper describes a pilot study of the treatment of psychosomatic and somatising patients who were referred to the Psychiatric Outpatients of a general hospital because of difficulties in their management. The patients were offered treatment in a once-weekly psychotherapy group. The treatment approach was aimed at improving the patients’ capacity to experience emotional problems, and challenged the tendency to displace all their difficulties into physical symptoms and illness. At times, the group was effective in achieving these aims despite strong resistance from the patients. The experience of the conflictful feelings was accompanied by high levels of anxiety and fears of destructiveness which demonstrated both the protective function of the somatic symptoms and the need for more intensive group therapy to provide sufficient support for them to be worked through.

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