Wellness vs. Pathology in Theoretical Models

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lisa Roundy

Lisa has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college and has a master's degree in human relations.

This lesson will discuss the differences in a wellness or pathological approach to mental health treatment. Can these approaches both be appropriate or are they always used separately?

Two Approaches

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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  • 0:01 Two Approaches
  • 0:47 Wellness vs. Pathology
  • 2:11 What Is Correct
  • 3:37 Lesson Summary
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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.

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