Mental health is a very defined practice which for the past one hundred years has been established, refined, regulated, and researched. The formal definition says “a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.”
One common misconception is mental health workers see disorders in everything. While mental health symptoms that make up a disorder may be present in areas of a person’s life, a person has to meet a specific set of criteria that is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The current version is the DSM-5.
Where Mental Health Came From
One common misconception is mental health workers see disorders in everything.Some of what is seen as mental health we know today was made popular by Sigmund Freud who so given the title of “the father of psychoanalysis.” You may have heard of the term Frueudian Slip or have seen dramatizations of counseling where someone lays on a couch and talks about their dreams or sexual fantasies. These were techniques used by Freud in his counseling sessions. While you can still find therapist who practice a version of today, many do not hold to that counseling therapy.
More popular counseling techniques are evidence-based. Evidence-based counseling needs to be a proven technique which is effective for most of the population with a very specific outcome. Few therapies are able to say they are evidence-based treatments including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, and Solution-Focused Therapy. Each has their own set of coping skills with specific expected outcomes.
Shifts In Mental Health
This fifth iteration of the DSM indicates mental health is growing. If you look closely to our history, there are some seriously concerning practices that regulation and standards have sought to correct. Counseling practices have gone from insitutionalization and removal of patients to individualize care that seeks to keep clients involved in their community as much as possible.
Recently, mental health is making the shift to understanding itself as part of the medical model. Conditions like lack of sleep due to insomnia or sleep apnea, substance dependence, head trauma, and hyperthyroidism have generally been accepted as influencing mental health. With this medical integration, a better understanding is coming with how biology, chemistry, and neurology will be affecting illnesses like depression and trauma.
Due to this medical model, all treatment recommendations, every session received, has to be deemed medically necessary to be paid by insurance and considered ethical. Any practice deemed unethical or unlawful can result in a loss of license and legal consequences.
Nowadays, counseling has many flavors. Traditional talk therapy that includes individual, couple, family, and group therapy involves talking, expressing emotion, and looking at supports, boundaries, and other coping skills. Other therapy includes equine therapy with horses, horticulture therapy with gardening, art and yoga therapy, pharmacological management with medication, and more.
What was your perceptions of counseling before this article or continued concerns after reading?