Cognitive behavioural and neuropsychiatric treatment of post‐traumatic conversion disorder: a case study Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Conversion disorder consists of involuntary sensory or motor symptoms and deficits that cannot be explained by a general medical condition. There are several treatment options, although none has emerged as the treatment of choice. The present case study examined the effects of adding cognitive behaviour therapy to neuropsychiatric management of conversion disorder (motor subtype). The patient, a retired emergency services worker, presented with a history of intermittent episodes of speech disruption (inability to speak or difficulty speaking properly). Although episodes of speech disturbance sometimes occurred unexpectedly, they were more likely to occur under conditions of stress and fatigue, and were triggered by reminders of work-related traumatic events. The patient was treated with pharmacotherapy and psychoeducation from a neuropsychiatrist. With the aim of improving treatment outcome, cognitive behaviour therapy was added, involving imaginal exposure to trauma memories, along with cognitive restructuring. The frequency of between- and within-session speech disturbance episodes declined over the course of cognitive behaviour therapy to the point that the patient was essentially symptom-free. Within-session distress ratings also decreased, which suggested habituation to trauma-related memories. This case study demonstrates how particular cognitive behaviour therapy interventions can be usefully applied to one form of conversion disorder.

publication date

  • March 2004