Self-help groups can aid an individual in coping with and adapting to
catastrophic illness. The authors describe a therapeutic technique in which
a member of a medical team serves as a catalyst in introducing a "veteran"
patient to a newly disabled patient with the same disease or problem so
that they can share feelings, experiences, and strategies. Two cases are
presented in which patients who were severely depressed benefited from peer
counseling. Short-term or "one-shot" encounters can be a valuable way to
help some disabled patients deal with the anxiety and helplessness they
feel in the acute states of serious disease or injury.