Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Mental Disease Model is Often Harmful

Anyone acquainted with the current state of counseling knows that the most popular model now days is called the Medical Model or the Disease Model. This simply means that anyone perceived as having mental and emotional struggles is mentally ill. The usual treatment is a pill. Some of us Counselors do not fully embrace this model of care and counseling. There are several reasons why.

1. It is used to describe even those whose Anxiety, Depression or Anger is related to grief such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or financial struggles. It is patently obvious that sadness, worry, fear and other emotional struggles are not a disease but can be a normal, healthy response to a terrible situation.

2. There is stigma associated with the term, "Mental Illness". If you follow the link above you will see an article on this sad fact. One day I asked a mom who was experiencing grief if she had considered Counseling. She recoiled in horror and said, "I am not mentally ill!" I meant Counseling to help her through the situation not to heal her mental illness. However, she has been impacted by all the ads that urge us to see every temporary problem as a serious illness.

3. The treatment of an illness means that the cause is somehow biological even when it is not. We often hear about depression being a "chemical imbalance" or genetic. But the research on treatment outcomes does not indicate that pills work very well to alleviate depression and anxiety. In fact, they are not usually more effective than a sugar pill called a placebo.

4. When called a mental illness, it implies the client will never recover. That is not true. I am convinced that everyone can get substantially better with good counseling, prayer, positive fellowship and support from family and friends. It may take a lot of hard work, a good counselor and a ton of prayer and love but faith, hope and love are powerfully good for us with no bad side effects.

If you are struggling, find a Counselor who will help you think more appropriately, love more freely and trust God more completely. Go to our web to find great self help materials.

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