Situational Psychotherapy

The Romans had a saying "Mens sana in corpore sano". If you cure the body, but neglect to repair the broken soul, your victory is likely to be hollow indeed.

One of the programs that I am proudest of at Schlesinger Pain Centers are the psychological services that we offer to our patients. This is not your usual individual and group therapy sessions, although these too are available. We have learned over the years about the tremendous psychological toll that cancer or chronic illness takes on the individual. The average patient that we see has suffered from chronic pain for 3-5 years. Many have lost friends, jobs and even families because of the devastating effects of their pain.

We call this situational psychotherapy because the best diagnosis for most of these patients would be situational or reactive depression, a term that implies that depressive symptoms are a normal response to the life situation in which the patients find themselves. But what is the proper medical response when it turns out that many of these patients find themselves in situations that are completely overwhelming, paralyzing or permanent? We have spoken at length about the evolutionary nature of modern health problems in the blog series “Lives Out of Balance“. The problem expressed most clearly in the blog subtitled, “Evolutionarily Out of Balance” is that modern man, both corpus and psyche, is subjected to stresses for which he is simply not designed.

When the psychological stresses prove to be too much for the individual either on the basis of severity or chronicity we intervene. Where external forces are subject to change, we seek to do so. Where external conditions are fixed or immutable, situational psychotherapy seeks to help the individual find coping mechanisms that will see them through. Richard Rogal, our clinical psychologist has spent a lifetime working with these patients and has produced amazing results.

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