Over the course of several weeks, a patient with a somatic symptom disorder has several conferences with the psychiatrist. She becomes increasingly anxious and her physical symptoms intensify. Which of the following explains the patient's symptoms?

The patient is responding to therapy as expected at this time

Explanation

•In the initial stage of psychotherapy, as the patient begins to confront the conflicts that are the source of their symptoms, it is common for them to experience an intensification of anxiety and defensive behavior.

•Because the symptoms serve the purpose of reducing anxiety and are operating on an unconscious level, the patient will stop the behavior only when she has learned a more effective way to deal with the stress she is experiencing.

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