Michal Čevelíček, Tomáš Řiháček, Jan Roubal, Roman Hytych

Conceptualizations and strategies used by therapists in the treatment of medically unexplained somatic symptoms: A qualitative study

Aim

Clients with medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS) are commonly encountered by psychotherapists. Yet, there is a lack of research on conceptualizations and strategies they use
in the treatment of MUPS across different theoretical orientations. The present study aims to fill this gap by exploring conceptualizations and strategies reported by a sample of experienced psychotherapists.

Methods

Psychotherapists (N = 20) with different theoretical orientations and with at least 5 years of experience in the treatment of MUPS were recruited and interviewed using a semi-structured protocol. The data were analyzed using grounded theory analytic procedures.

Results

Strategies and conceptualizations reflected by the psychotherapists will be reported and discussed. These include the psychotherapists’ assumptions about client variables which influence the psychotherapy process (e.g., the level of psychological mindedness) and the psychotherapists’ strategies which respond to these variables (e.g., the focus on developing clients’ awareness).

Discussion

The results will be discussed in relation to the theoretical and empirical literature which offers conceptualizations of the etiology and treatment strategies in psychotherapy with people who have medically unexplained physical symptoms.

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