The Interpersonal Perspective
The interpersonal perspective is actually not just one
but several approaches. They all emphasize the importance of relationships with
others for psychological adjustment.
Harry Stack Sullivan was one of the first theorists to
systematically develop an interpersonal approach to psychiatric disorders.
Look up "Harry Stack Sullivan" & do some
internet research on him. He will be more real, once you know more about his
work and how he came to develop his theory!
IPT approach (interpersonal therapy)
Focus is on the here and now, not the past!
IPT is used with problems such as: unresolved grief,
role disputes, changes in roles & interpersonal deficits
Like cognitive-behavior therapy, IPT is designed as
a time-limited, focused therapy that may last only 12-16 weeks.
The Sociocultural Perspective
This perspective studies abnormal behavior in an environmental context.
The Sociocultural perspective views abnormal behavior as the product of broad social
Mental Illness and Social Ills
- Social ills cause psychological ills
- Focus should be on social ills such as poverty
Apart from poverty there are many other injustices built into our society and these
injustices create stress that can lead to psychological disturbance. The injustices can be
associated with age, race, education, sex and financial success to name a few.
The Sociocultural view wants us to address the obvious social causes rather than look for
underlying psychological causes. We see a pattern emerge here that may start with poverty.
The poor person is exposed to more stress and because of their poverty are less likely to
have personal resources and social support to cope with the stress. (Money for medication
and/ or counseling is hard to come by for these individuals. Many times they are isolated
from there families as well.)
Studies have shown that people in the lowest income groups had about twice the risk of
developing an episode of a psychiatric disorder as people who were not poor.
Mental Illness and Labeling
I am going to begin by sharing with you "common characteristics of
There are several characteristics that typify therapists of
all perspectives. In terms of educational background, almost all psychotherapists hold
masters or doctoral degrees in clinical or counseling psychology. In most states, only
professionals who have the appropriate educational background (usually a doctoral degree
such as Ph.D., Psy.D., Ed.D.) and have passed a state exam may use the title
"psychologist." Licensed therapists are able to practice independently, whereas
unlicensed therapists are supervised on a regular basis. These state licensing laws help
regulate who performs psychotherapy. The titles "counselor" &
"therapist" often may be legally used without any special training or license.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MDs) who specialize in psychiatry.
Training and educational background will influence the therapist's
approach to the etiology and treatment of abnormal behavior. For instance, psychiatrists
tend to adhere to the biological perspective, and therefore, are likely to treat
abnormality with medication. (Psychiatrist was first a medical doctor-biological
perspective was his training.)
Another common trait among therapists is their code of conduct
regarding clients. For example sexual contact between therapist and client is a prime
example of the therapist violating ethical guidelines and not acting in the best interests
of the client. ( I think we have all heard of cases where the therapist has suggested
having sex with the client, stating this act would help the client with their present
problem. This is definite misuse of power by the therapist because the client is so very
vulnerable when seeking help. How do we know about this behavior: by law suits against
unethical behavior by a therapist.)
Therapist-client communication is confidential. Unless clients provide
written consent or are dangerous to themselves or others, all records and information
regarding therapy sessions are held in confidence. When the client shares with the
therapist an attempt to commit suicide or harm a third party, the therapist has the legal
obligation to protect both the client and society This may involve breaking
confidentiality on a need-to-know basis.
All therapists need to develop an atmosphere of rapport and trust with
their clients for effective psychotherapy to occur. All forms of psychotherapy require
some degree of client self-disclosure, and the extent to which the clients are at ease
with their therapists often dictates the rate of progress in therapy. In addition to
self-disclosure, the client must trust the therapist enough to follow the therapist's
direction and interventions. In fact. trust can lead to the all-important belief that the
therapist and therapy will help the client. Although rapport and trust are qualities that
most of us desire in our personal relationships with others, the therapist-client
relationship should not be misconstrued as a friendship. This relationship is strictly a
professional one; it is time-limited and should not include socializing outside therapy
sessions, because the therapist needs to maintain objectivity. (Every so often,
the American Psychological Association will publish a list of psychologists who have
violated one of APA's ethical guidelines.)
Now a short outline detailing mental illness and labeling as it relates to Class, Race
- Psychological disturbances related to social class
- Differences found between people of lower socioeconomic class and those of middle-class
***People with lower socioeconomic backgrounds labeled psychotic and hospitalized
*** People with higher socioeconomic backgrounds labeled neurotic and not hospitalized
- Race effects diagnosis
***Blacks more likely to be diagnosed as alcoholic or schizophrenic
***Whites more likely to be diagnosed as depressed
There is an assignment pertaining to the information in your text on page
99. (Mental Illness & Labeling, Class, Ethnicity & Diagnosis, & The
Stigma of Psychiatric Labels)
Here is a site that is
Sociocultural Factors, Help-Seeking & Treatment
This is interesting as it shows that these sociocultural forces can often
influence whether individuals from different groups seek treatment as well as
how they respond to treatment.
Prevention as a Social Issue
sociocultural theorists are concerned with social and economic causes of psychological
disorders, there approach to treatment revolves around "community prevention
Evaluating the Sociocultural Perspective
Almost no one in the mental health field would dispute the
sociocultural theory that societal conditions contribute to psychological disturbance.
Stress is the key word here. At the top of the page we started off with the
statement: The sociocultural perspective views abnormal behavior as the product of broad social forces.
I want to present some of the statements at the end of this chapter,
that should help you better understand the causes of psychological disorders.
- Traditionally, theorists have viewed the causes as occurring either inside the
individual (biological, psychodynamic or cognitive perspective) or outside the individual
(behavioral, family systems or sociocultural perspective.)
- In recent years. many theorists have broadened their perceptions into a framework known
as the "diathesis-stress model."
This model recognizes that most disorders have a combination of internal and external