Individuals with somatic symptom disorders tend to have considerable difficulty with how they experience and appraise their bodily symptoms. The illness and the dysfunctional focus and behavior around the illness can assume a central role in the person’s life.
Somatic symptom disorders were originally thought of as “hysterical,” without legitimate medical causation, or as hypochondriasis. Though thinking has changed, negative judgments about unfounded illnesses can still be attached to individuals with these disorders. The boundary between medical and emotional problems can be further blurred. In some cases, an individual labeled with one of these illnesses may simply be experiencing a developing medical condition that has not yet been well defined. For all of these reasons, social workers need to take particular care in diagnosing somatic symptom disorders and in providing a fully biopsychosocial and multidisciplinary approach.
In this Answer, you describe what that approach might look like for one client.
To prepare: Imagine that Jennifer Brea, whose TEDTalk (TED Conferences, LLC, 2016) you watched, is referred to you for ongoing supportive therapy when her psychiatry consultant decides that she does not have a conversion disorder. Despite the psychiatrist’s opinion, her primary care physician ignores that consult and labels Jennifer as having a somatic symptom disorder anyway.
Submit a 5-minute recorded PowerPoint (5–7 slides) in which you address the following:
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