Lisa has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college and has a master's degree in human relations.
In front of you is a glass that holds eight ounces. The glass has four ounces of water in it. Do you see the glass as half full or half empty?
Like this example, there are different perspectives that exist for any situation. It is no different when you consider mental health interventions. There are different ways to address a client's needs depending on the viewpoint that is taken.
In this lesson, we will look at two basic perspectives that have an influence in mental health treatment. These two perspectives involve the idea of wellness and the treatment of pathology.
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Wellness vs. Pathology
First, we will consider the idea of wellness. Wellness refers to a positive state of body, mind, and spirit. This state of well-being is usually considered a result of correct life choices. The idea of developing wellness provides a basis for counseling theory that is holistic, or focuses on improving the whole person.
If we think of wellness as a half-full glass of water, we would think of intervention as a way to fill the glass by helping a client make positive choices that will maximize their potential. Though they may take different approaches to achieving wellness, a majority of counseling models fall under this paradigm.
Now let's look at pathology. 'Pathology' literally means 'the study of disease.' While we might see wellness as reaching a positive state of balance, pathology is concerned with a state of imbalance caused by a medical disorder.
If we think of pathology as a half-empty glass of water, we would see intervention as an attempt to fill the glass by fixing a medical problem that is preventing the client from reaching their potential. All medical treatments or pharmacological interventions would fall under this paradigm.
What Is Correct
When you were presented with the glass of water at the beginning of the lesson, your answer was correct whether you answered that the glass was half full or half empty.
Both the wellness and pathology approach can also be considered correct. Both can be effective treatments for mental health concerns. However, both ideas present treatment limitations. For instance, sometimes it can be difficult to determine the difference between a client's need to achieve a state of wellness and the influence of a medical disorder.
Imagine you are a therapist working to achieve a level of wellness in a person who is suffering from depression. If the client has no underlying medical condition, therapeutic intervention alone might be quite effective. How could the potential outcome change if the client is suffering from a chemical or hormonal imbalance that is affecting their ability to overcome the depression?
Now imagine you are a physician treating a person for depression with drug therapy alone. In some cases, this might provide the necessary intervention, but consider what might happen if the patient is unable to change habits that are contributing to the depression. Because of scenarios like these, both wellness models and the treatment of pathology are often employed simultaneously as an intervention.
The idea of wellness and the treatment of pathology both have a place in the treatment of mental health. Many traditional counseling models fall under the wellness paradigm. Wellness refers to a positive state of body, mind, and spirit. This approach to treatment helps a client better themselves through positive choices.
On the other hand, the pathology paradigm would include drug therapy and all other medical interventions. Pathology is the study of disease. This approach involves treating a medical problem that is negatively affecting the client's mental health.
Both the wellness and pathology approach can be effective treatments for mental health concerns, but it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether someone needs to achieve a state of wellness or if they have a medical disorder. Because of this, both approaches are often used as treatment at the same time.
The process of viewing this lesson can prepare you to:
- Interpret different approaches of wellness and pathology
- Relate how and why these two approaches can be employed as treatment options for mental health concerns
- Assess the correctness of each approach
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Wellness vs. Pathology in Theoretical Models
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