Supportive Psychotherapy

Supportive psychotherapy (also called client-centered or humanistic therapy) is directed at minimizing the patient's level of emotional distress through empathic listening (Rogers 1951). The therapeutic relationship itself is used to promote the child's emotional growth and healing. Typically, the therapist provides education, encouragement, and acceptance rather than trying to uncover unconscious motivations and conflicts. Reassurance is provided by pointing out patient strengths and by clarifying illness misconceptions. The therapy is focused on the "here and now" in an effort to provide the patient with symptomatic relief by dissipating powerful emotions that have emerged in the context of the illness.

The therapist actively works to process negative emotions (e.g., anxiety, sadness, anger) and to facilitate adaptive functioning (Green 2000). In the pe-diatric setting, supportive psychotherapy is generally brief (i.e., during a single visit), although it may also be prolonged and ongoing. Successful supportive psychotherapy enhances a child's self-esteem, which is often negatively affected by the physical sequelae of the illness (Green 2000). Lane (2008) has shown that helping patients develop increased emotional awareness can lead to diminished somatic symptoms across many different illness groups. In addition, supportive psychotherapy has been used to reduce negative emotions in parents facing pedi-atric physical illness (Sahler et al. 2005).

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