Symptom prescription: A review of the clinical outcome literature
The concept of symptom prescription is introduced and defined with examples. The clinical outcome literature on the use of symptom prescription as a therapeutic technique designed to facilitate symptom reduction is reviewed. It is concluded that prescribing the symptom is an effective technique for individuals complaining of sleep onset insomnia. In especially resistant cases, symptom prescription may prove to be the treatment of choice. Generally positive results have also been demonstrated for other disorders that are also characterized by high levels of anxiety, including functional urinary and bowel disorders, agoraphobia, and obsessive thoughts. Two hypotheses are presented, which attempt to explain how symptom prescription facilitates therapeutic change. Finally, some implications of symptom prescription for psychotherapy research and practice are briefly examined.