Presenter: Linda Thomson, MSN, CPNP, ABMH, ABNH, FASCH & Dabney Ewin, MD, ABMH, FASCH
The stressful events in a person's life may not always be expressed in words, but rather in physical symptoms. This form of body language may be an alternative method of communicating stress, a metaphor for what is bothering them. Psychological factors are frequently the cause of functional disorders such as headaches, habit coughs, abdominal pain and tic disorders. Organic or pathophysiologic causes for the physical symptoms must always be explored. However, failure to recognize the impact of psychological factors on the symptoms may delay effective treatment and expose the individual to unnecessary medications with potentially untoward side effects and significant costs for extensive laboratory testing, imaging studies, and referrals. Treatment strategies for somatoform symptoms are often multimodal and quite different from problems with a physiological cause. Metaphorical approaches can be particularly useful to communicate with the unconscious in the same language that created the functional symptom.
This presentation will describe how metaphors, hypnosis, and ideomotor exploration can be used to diagnose functional disorders and help the individual, recognize inner strength, resiliency, and develop self-esteem that may ultimately lead to self-mastery over functional symptoms. The workshop will include experiential components. Cases will be discussed by the group where the presenting symptom of the patient was a physical expression of a psychological problem. The participants will also have the opportunity to work in groups to develop metaphors for a variety of conditions and to learn how ideomotor signaling can be used to assess for causes of psychosomatic illness.