Conceptualization of Psychological Distress Psychology Is a Essay

  • Length: 7 pages
  • Subject: Psychology
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #92793860

Excerpt from Essay :

Conceptualization of Psychological Distress

Psychology is a discipline of mental development and behavior. Psychology involves behavior examination, which determines how actions are related to the environment. Whereas psychology is frequently functional in the treatment and assessment of psychological problems, it can also be applied in solving and understanding problems. This study introduces the different factors, concepts, and themes used to understand and describe psychological disorders. Psychotherapy is a terminology that describes the practice used to treat psychological disorders and other mental distress. This study has fostered the understanding of psychotherapy and psychology by providing the appropriate terminologies and essential definitions on the same.

It is evident that psychological distress is an aspect that bedevils the society. Mental health practitioners and the entire society are expected to have an idea of dealing with the same. The conceptualization of psychological health is critical in deciphering the source of human suffering as elucidated in this study. Whereas the source of the distresses may vary, the study has clearly shown that the major ones are closely linked to personality traits, biological dysfunctions, socio-cultural relations, history of the individual among other factors. Proper assessments and effective therapies are closely related because they play a critical role in the eventual success of alleviating distress. Whilst showing the relationship between DSM and ICD, the study has shown that the use of proper assessment methods play a role when practitioners are choosing appropriate methods to help a distressed person. The classification of distressed individual as groups, couples, or family also determines the method to be used in the therapeutic process. This is clearly identified in the study. The over-dependence on the medical model of psychological health in contemporary psychological practice has been revealed as heavily problematic. This has led to the wide utility of the social model of psychological health.

Important Themes and Factors Relevant to the Conceptualization of Psychological Distress


This study introduces the different factors, concepts, and themes used to understand and describe psychological disorders. It is vital because it helps practitioners to appreciate the antagonistic and diverse nature of the explanations, ideas, and language evolving in this era. Researchers explain that what people know about psychological distress has been influenced over time. This has occurred through professional discourses (psychology and psychiatry) and popular cultures like entertainment media and everyday language. These factors interact in a complex manner to produce a strong fusion of scientific knowledge and common sense, which could be challenging to unravel (Burlingame & McClendon, 2008).

This study entails a critical analysis of the link between professional and lay knowledge in the field of psychology to grasp the basis of contemporary psychological health practice. The overdependence on the medical model of psychological health in contemporary psychological practice will be revealed as heavily problematic. As such, the process is heavily reliant on the interpretation of human behavior and emotions, with diagnosis capable of being shaped by subjective beliefs and attitudes. This study confirms that the knowledge base of psychological work is far from direct. Psychological disorders are inherently complex with interventions and assessments regularly fraught with tension, contradiction, and controversy (Lebow, 2008b).

Terminology and definitions

Oftentimes, it is argued that attitudes towards people with psychological distress reflect an absence of knowledge and understanding. For instance, surveys focusing on the public consistently demonstrate confusion about the actual meaning of psychological distress. However, this is not a surprise because a significant disagreement exists amongst professionals and academicians on the same. Ways of defining and understanding psychological distress are constantly evolving, essentially in what is dynamic and contested arena. Establishing a unified description of what constitutes psychological distress could be a frustrating exercise and a thing of a holy grail (Wachtel, 2010). For instance, psychological health could be defined positively as a condition of well being where a person realizes his/her abilities. From the negative perspective, it is the lack of objectively diagnosing illness to survive the normal life distress and work productively to contribute to the society (Brown, 2008).

The Psychological Health Act initiated a single definition of psychological disorder as any disability or disorder of the mind (Hayes, 2008). The controversy and confusion surrounding disorder are openly mirrored in the different terminologies utilized in the field. They include psychological distress, psychological health problem, psychological disorder, psychological illness, and psychological health. While the terms are frequently used interchangeably, they originate from diverse ideological, philosophical, and theoretical perspectives. This implies that terminologies used to describe someone's psychological health is rooted in the detailed approach of understanding psychological health subscribed to by the person, organization, or group using the term. For instance, mainstream psychiatric or psychological literature prefers terms like psychological disorder or psychological illness when explaining a psycho-medical paradigm (Hayes, 2008).

On the other hand, critical user-centered or critical social scientific literature will opt for terms psychological distress or health problem depicting a psychosocial paradigm. The two differing models of psychological health show a conscious preference for the term psychological distress. It closely reflects both the critical social scientific model and value position in association with people who use psychological health services approach to the subject. Occasionally, the term psychological disorder is used when feeling it is imperative to remain consistent with the original context where the term had been utilized, for instance, in discussions majoring on definitions used in psychological policy or law. However, an individual must show the contested nature of the term by using single inverted commas (Huss & Baer, 2008).

Examining Attitudes towards Psychological Distress

It is imperative to reflect and acknowledge individual attitudes and feelings, and grasps psychological health and psychological distress. Practitioners must be aware they are not practicing in a political and moral vacuum. Neil Thompson's PC's model below is an effective tool used to help practitioners develop their understanding of the connection between individual attitudes, popular culture, and the wider society. This model reminds people that the way they behave and understand the world around them and the people within the world is essentially influenced by their culture. As subjective elements, social and healthcare professionals are also subject to the influence of prejudicial attitudes, ideas, and behaviors. Accepting this fact is the most fundamental beginning step towards growing into a critically self-aware professional, able to identify and redress any personal discriminatory practices and beliefs (Kellogg & Young, 2008).

P- Personal

C- Cultural

S- Structural

The words sympathy and fear appear frequently in the lives of most people. These are regular emotional reactions, which individuals have towards those in psychological distress. The complex, diverse and extraordinary ways by which psychological distress manifests in people could be disturbing (Zinbarg & Griffith, 2008). Sometimes, it tends to be frightening for people experiencing the problem, those close to them and colleagues. The Department of Health has led various surveys of individual's attitudes to psychological distress from 1990s. The two theories have features consistently and prominently in an individual's response (Brown, 2008). Although sympathy and fear might mirror different value positions, individuals regularly express concern and sympathy for the psychologically distressed while perpetuating stigmatizing actions and excluding them from the society. This unearths how attitudes towards individuals with psychological problems are often contradictory and extremely complex (Lebow, 2008a).

Official statistics demonstrate that one in every six people may experience a psychological health problem in the course of their lifetime. However, studies conducted by the Department of Health reveal that at least fifty percent of individuals reported knowing a person who had a prior experience to psychological distress (Huss & Baer, 2008). On the other hand, only eight percent reported that they had experienced psychological distress themselves. Similar studies reveal that the respondent reported that if they were receiving psychiatric intervention, they would be unwilling or reluctant to report this to their friends. They contend that it is a good idea not to tell other people about psychological distress because of how they react (Sparks, Duncan & Miller, 2009).

The roles of idiographic and nomothetic approaches in fostering the understanding of various concepts related to assessment and treatment of psychological stress cannot be underestimated. It is advocated that a therapist must choose a primary diagnostic tool like DSM or ICD by determining the causes of the distress or other aspects causing trouble to an individual. Such a process is essential in the development of a common goal between the therapist and the client with the help of a nomomethic template. This process also ensures that challenges as disagreements between the parties, mis-selection of diagnostic tool, and unnecessary comorbid diagnosis are alleviated (Wachtel, 2010).

This indicates that although psychological distress is statistically part of the daily human existence and a common experience for human beings, people tend to distance themselves from it. They look at it as something far removed from them. Moreover, this appears to affirm the prevalence of a deep-rooted taboo or fear around psychological distress in the society. People tend to do one out of two things; they look at the affected person in a certain way, some feel furtive…

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