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Abstract

In the literature on chronic or life-threatening illness, there is an overriding emphasis on clients' psychological coping styles and how they relate to psychological functioning. By contrast, in our approach, we look at the subjective mind/body experiences that clients have of their illness and how their lives are impacted by their illness. As psychotherapists, we address their existential distress, pain, body experience, thoughts, and feelings, as well as their efforts to cope or find meaning in their illness. We summarize Gestalt/Existential therapy for chronic illness, illustrate the approach with three case-vignettes, and stress the importance of attending to each client's unique responses to illness. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol/In Session 58: 1361–1373, 2002.