Tag Archives: mental illness diagnosis

The Emphasis on Diagnosis in Mental Health

Prior to the turn of the 20th century mental health disorders weren’t viewed as something that belongs to the medical domain. Then came the work of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and other notable psychiatrists. This triggered what some call the modern era of mental health. As a result of this paradigm shift, mental health conditions came to be viewed as a part of the spectrum of medical conditions.

With this view of mental health conditions came the application of the standardized medical model which includes:

  1. Observation: The collecting of pertinent information regarding the bio/psycho/social aspects of the patient.
  2. Assessment: A review of observations, including interviews and testing results in a collection of data.
  3. Diagnosis: Based upon the data collected a systematic process the most appropriate diagnosis is made.
  4. Treatment: Usually driven by diagnosis, treatment for the condition is introduced.

As treatment begins, typically one of the most common questions asked by a client is, “What do I have Doc?” For many the answer comes quickly and often easily. Others can present as a moving target, making it difficult to establish a diagnosis.

On a more cautionary note, it must also be acknowledged that there are mental health professionals who prefer not to communicate the diagnosis to clients. For some it is viewed as labeling the client and depersonalizing them to being a symptom rather than a person. They feel that applying standardized medical model of doctor-patient relationship to mental health conditions is detrimental for therapeutic effects. That is why mental health patients most often called “clients”. Whether you agree or not the diagnostics remain a critical part of treatment, whether it’s communicated to clients or not.