According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) “somatization disorder is
characterised by at least four unexplained pain symptoms, two unexplained non-pain
gastrointestinal symptoms, one unexplained sexual or menstrual symptom, and one
pseudo-neurological symptom” (as cited in Egan & Kenny, 2011, p. 93). People that suffer
from these symptoms are immersed in a continued use of primary care services. This can be a
very overwhelming process when there is pain or sickness but no apparent medical solution.
The literature review explored how contemporary psychotherapy treats psychosomatic pain
and illness. This exploration was approached by presenting different psychotherapeutic
theories from Freud and Lacan to Object Relations Theory. These theories give an
understanding of where these symptoms come from and which are the best psychological
The aim of this research was to explore how psychotherapists from different modalities
comprising Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psychodynamic, Body Center Therapy and
Integrative Therapy, work with psychosomatic symptoms. To achieve this, five accredited
psychotherapists were interviewed following a semi-structured interview through which the
use of open questions allowed the exploration of their underlying themes. A qualitative
approach was chosen in order to gain a deep understanding of the experience of these
psychotherapists working with psychosomatic clients.
The findings were compared with the literature review for validation of the themes. Some
recommendations for further research have been added in order to continue this research
which is very broad and complex.