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Various branches of the helping professions utilize the concepts of abnormal psychology differently, although in actual practice they are used very similarly. For example, from the biological view, such as psychiatry, abnormal psychology is viewed as biological and diagnostic. The goal is to determine diagnosis and prescribe effective treatment, often biochemical and talk based.
Social work, counseling and psychology tends to view abnormal psychology a bit differently. Although diagnostics are considered important by these groups, the primary goal of treatment is a person centered approach. Abnormal psychology becomes a way to understand a person, not to simply develop a treatment plan. The goal is to use the individuals strengths no matter what the diagnosis to assist the person in living the best life that he or she can.
The basic concept in abnormal psychology is that mental health disorders exist and at any given time, one out of five of us has a diagnosable mental illness. Therefore, the establishment of effective treatment is critical. However, the choice of treatment and methods of treatment in social work and counseling are much more individual than in the medical model.
Some of the concepts of abnormal psychology are:
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A pastor or priest who is experienced and has some educational background in psychology is certainly an appropriate option for counseling. But while they are an option for some types of problems, such as marital issues, anxiety and some depression, they are not recommended for such disorders as schizophrenia or Bipolar. In those cases, a pastor can certainly help as part of a treatment team, but as a sole source of counseling, it is not recommended.
The main issue with seeing a pastor/priest would be their experience and therefore ability to see if someone they are treating is decompensating and in need of more intensive treatment. Another concern is that there is no licensing board or other regulatory counseling body keeping pastors/priests trained appropriately. But as long as the counseling is spiritual based and the pastor/priest understands their limits, spiritual counseling is a good option.
Spirituality is a vital part of mental health for those who have faith. It has always enhanced recovery for those who suffer with mental illness. It should be considered at least as part of treatment for most patients.