Somatic symptom disorders

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 Assignment, you describe what that approach might look like for one client. 

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 with the conversion disorder  anyway. Be sure to investigate what the ‘conversion’ diagnosis means  when responding. 

PowerPoint (5–7 slides) in which you address the following: 

  • Explain in a concise professional manner how you would conduct your  first meeting with Jennifer. Identify specific steps you would take to  understand her circumstance and needs.
  • Explain how you would proceed with her medical team in terms of advocacy for her as a client believed to have this condition. 
  • Explain why you would need to take a biopsychosocial approach to her ongoing care.
  • Explain what social, family, vocational, Internet, and medical  supports you would explore to help with her longer-term stabilization.
  • Analyze the controversy in diagnosing a mental disorder based on  unexplained physical symptoms. Within your analysis, consider how power  and privilege influence who provides the diagnoses and which groups are  more likely to be diagnosed with certain disorders. Explain your  thoughts on this debate. 

Support your presentation with research and references to scholarly literature. 

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