Tag Archives: Mental Illness

Quick Definition of Mental Health

In looking at mental health criteria I came across this definition.  From an article in the Encyclopedia of Public Health, titled Mental Health says:

Dianne Hales & Robert Hales define mental health as the capacity to think rationally and logically, and to cope with the transitions, stresses, traumas, and losses that occur in all lives, in ways that allow emotional stability and growth.  In general, mentally healthy individuals value themselves, perceive reality as it is, accept its limitations and possibilities, respond to its challenges, carry out their responsibilities, establish and maintain close relationship, deal reasonable with others, pursue work that suits their talent and training, and feel a sense of fulfillment that makes the efforts of daily living worthwhile.  (Rosenfield, 2002, p. 2)

I think this definition supports what is written in the “Psychopathology Defined in Context” because in this document one requirement of mental health is “being able to function comfortably on a day-to-day basis”.  I understand these definitions to mean that a person who is mentally healthy will be able to progress in life within what is understood to be normal limits.  They will not have any extreme stressors that cause them to stop their mental growth because they will be able to deal with any stressors they come across productively.

This document also mentions four dimensions in which to look at mental health.  In taking a look at these dimensions, and an article from the Mayo Clinic titled, Mental health: What’s normal, what’s not, I was able to identify and recognize them.  The dimension of comfort and discomfort are, when you are comfortable, your behaviors, feelings, and thoughts are within what is considered ‘normal range’.  Excessive behaviors such as cleaning even when there is nothing to clean, or feelings that don’t seem to go away would make a person uncomfortable.  Another example of discomfort would be abnormal thoughts.  Abnormal thoughts would include believing something is controlling you, or considering killing yourself.

The next dimension mentioned in the document is efficiency and inefficiency.  All of the actions mentioned above would also demonstrate this dimension.  If the symptoms are severe enough or uncomfortable enough they would disrupt any kind of routine a person has in place, thus, causing everything to take longer or to not happen at all.

The third dimension is potential and actual.  The disruption of a mental illness causes any potential growth to cease.  Many times the person does not realize this and believes things are very different than what is actually happening.  The person’s perception is often a key factor in determining the correct treatment.

The final dimension is acculturation and bizarreness.  When a person’s behavior becomes disruptive or is considered to be out of the norm, other people’s perceptions can be used to help determine what diagnosis is appropriate.  This could be useful when the person does not see anything wrong with the way they are behaving.

Hopefully this quick look at the different dimensions of mental health will aid in the search for information on this topic.


Rosenfield, Paul J.; Stuart J. Eisendrath. “Mental Health.” Encyclopedia of Public Health.The Gale Group Inc. 2002. Retrieved September 02, 2009 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404000537.html

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). “Mental health: What’s normal, what’s not.” Retrieved September 02, 2009 from MayoClinic.com: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mental-health/MH00042

The role of our personal values in a counseling relationship

The role of our personal values in a counseling relationship is a challenging ethical concept.  Even the most well intentioned and cautious clinician will be influenced, even inadvertently, by his or her values.  Imposing our own values on a client is a treacherous proposition, and it risks compromising our objectivity.  Some relativists would argue that such objectivity is an illusion, and that it is wholly unobtainable.

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Initially, I am not entirely sure I saw a conflict with exposing my values (without imposing them on the client).  After additional reflection, I am not sure that I am entirely comfortable exposing my values during the course of the interview process.  Perception is reality, and I would have no control over the client’s interpretation of the values that were exposed.  Despite my best efforts and good intentions, exposing my values would open a number of different variables that could be counterproductive to the interview process.

For example, if my values differed greatly from those of my client, I could risk alienating the client to the degree that they may come to the conclusion that our values differ too much to continue the counseling relationship.  The end result is a referral at best, or the client ceasing to pursue psychotherapy as a treatment method all together.

It’s your turn!  I am seeking out strategies I can employ that will help me contain the potential damage associated with exposing my underlying core values.  How much does your therapist share with you?

I would like to learn to avoid comparing and contrasting client values with my own.  This is an overwhelming task given that I have a natural inclination to establish rapport by doing just that.  Does your therapist compare and contrast their values with yours?

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