Interpersonal Perspective

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 forces.

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 therapists."
    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 & Diagnosis

  • 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 quite interesting!

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 programs.

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 causes.




















STCC Foundation Press, 2014!       Content by Carol A. Roberts