This was an idea presented to me and I’d like to present it to you.  I know it’s a controversial topic, but controversy can be a good thing, it creates conversation, a forum to exchange thoughts and opinions.  So here goes…

As I’ve mentioned, how philosophy works in counselling is simple – it targets the initial premise(s) that lead us to our conclusions.  Through critical thinking, evaluation and re-evaluation of beliefs, assumptions and values; the widely known ‘textbook’ definition of philosophy, clients or patients seeking counsel are facilitated through their own thought processes to the root of their problem.

It is a growing belief in the mental health and wellness movement that this is something that the medical model does not seem to do, and here’s how that is reasoned.  The medical model has the following structure;

The application of the medical model in mental health & wellness

Biological testing is a pivotal factor in the medical model, without biological testing, we cannot continue onto diagnosing, or treatment. 

Applying the medical model to psychotherapy then, would mean assessing symptoms of the patient and administering a biological test to arrive at a diagnosis; however, mental illness cannot be biologically tested, so how can the medical model be a valid tool to diagnose mental illness?  Or, to go a step further, and treat mental illnesses with psychotropic drugs that can significantly affect the biological brain composition. Something doesn’t add up – mental illness, but biological treatment?

Moreover, the medical model begins with symptom assessment, not with the problem. So, even if treatments were administered, they would be based on symptoms, for symptoms – not the problem. 

For example, if a person’s arm is broken, and they are given morphine for pain; the symptom of pain is alleviated, but not the broken arm, not to mention the potential harms/side effects of morphine usage.  The administration of psychotropic drugs for mental illness faces a similar dilemma, with less assurance of relief and more consequence.  The psychotropic drugs; the antidepressants, the mood stabilizers, etc. might eliminate the patients’ symptoms, but because there is no biological evidence that could confirm a diagnoses, no guarantees could be offered for the accuracy or efficiency of treatment.  And given the nature of the drugs, the patient would risk significant and permanent changes in brain composition. How is this valid means of treatment?

Physical illnesses have physical properties, mental illnesses do not; they pertain to an immaterial mind.  So, if mental illnesses are rooted in the mind, why is a model that:

1) relies of biological evidence and,

2) targets the physical and material brain/body,

being used to diagnose and treat non-biologically testable, immaterial ailments?

Our beliefs, opinions and approaches change over time and experience.  Your experiences and opinions are valued. So I encourage you to share your thoughts. I encourage questions, discussions and debate, but ask that we do so in a respectful manner.

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