Psychosocial Intervention: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:03 What are Psychosocial…
  • 1:25 Types of Interventions
  • 5:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Anti-social behavior in the form of social phobia response or substance abuse is destructive to individuals and society. This lesson reviews psychosocial interventions and real-world examples associated with each.

What Are Psychosocial Interventions?

The word psychosocial is a bit of a mouthful. What could it mean?

Breaking the word down, we see that 'psycho' refers to psychology - the study of human nature or the mind, its functions, and behavior - and 'social' refers to society - groups of people living together with shared laws and organizations. If we put these two ideas together, we can see that psychosocial means how humans interact with and relate to others around them. It focuses on relationships and how humans work in society.

When a person is not interacting with society well, psychosocial intervention may be used to help guide the person back into a healthy state of being. That is the use of non-medicinal means to alter a person's behaviors and relationships with society in order to reduce the impact of the person's disorder or condition. The key to psychosocial intervention is that it does not use pharmaceutical assistance in the endeavor to change a person's behaviors toward a more healthy interaction with society.

Psychosocial intervention can be used in cases of some mental disorders, the cessation of negative behaviors (especially harmful addictions), and in well-being programs. While there are many different therapies with different focuses, educating the person suffering and their family or support system about the condition and treatment approach is key to the success of any psychosocial intervention.

Types of Interventions

There are many types of intervention styles associated with psychosocial intervention which fall under two main umbrellas of therapy: cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy.

Cognitive Therapy

Cognition refers to thoughts, thus cognitive therapy is focused on a person's thoughts about themselves, their environment, and how they fit into the environment. Many people with social disorders (such as anxiety, depression, and social engagement issues) have negative internal dialogue in relation to how they are perceived in society. Negative thoughts can lead to negative behaviors (such as social isolation). Cognitive therapy acts on the belief that changed thoughts lead to changed behaviors.

When negative internal dialogue can be changed into positive dialogue, the person has a chance to live a happy and healthy life.

Therapies Used

Talk therapies are most common for this form of intervention.

  • Individual counseling (one-on-one time with a licensed professional therapist) may be required at the start of treatment. The counselor's role is to encourage the person seeking help to identify their needs and guide the person into a state of healthy well-being through positive thoughts and actions. To challenge negative thoughts, a counselor might ask a patient to write a list of all the evidence in their life that negates their negative thoughts. Consider a patient who believes they are unloved. Their therapist might ask them to write a list of all the people that have expressed love for them.
  • Group therapy (in which people with similar difficulties gather to discuss their struggles and resolutions together) is another form of talk therapy for people whose issues are not severe, but are ongoing. People with chronic anxiety or social phobias might do well in group therapies. Group therapy is also used as a relapse prevention technique for substance abuse and addictive behaviors. Through sharing the struggle with others and realizing that others deal with similar struggles, each person may begin to change their thoughts on themselves and how society views them.

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