Psychotherapy has among its goals establishing a new, or restoring a prior, sense of identity to patients whose sense of self has been deeply threatened by mental or physical trauma. Along with decreasing emotional suffering, the restoration of identity may be a key outcome of psychotherapeutic treatment in rehabilitation. Patients’ losses include not only the physical aspects of disability but also the symbolic and psychological losses that ensue. Cognitive deficits may develop as a result of brain dysfunction, and these may also be targets of remediation techniques designed to compensate for, or directly strengthen, those functions that were weakened.
Among the early developments in the field of rehabilitation were concerns for the holistic treatment of people with physical disabilities. The field of rehabilitation psychology was an outgrowth of the field of rehabilitation medicine in the sense that psychologists devoted themselves to the study and treatment of persons with acquired or congenital disabilities. Psychological treatment and psychotherapeutic treatment of persons with disabilities are now considered to be an integral part of rehabilitation medicine and behavioral medicine programs. Psychological rehabilitation draws heavily from fields such as rehabilitation, clinical psychology, neuropsychology, health psychology, behavioral medicine, counseling psychology, and developmental psychology. Practitioners come to the field from one of these areas and gain the specialized training necessary to confront the unique challenges encountered with rehabilitation of patients in psychological treatment.