Critical Practice: Self Determination And Social Change : Mental Health Law


Essay On Self Determination And Social Change Of Mental Health Law

Mental Health Law essay an attempt will be made to discuss the scope of a counsellor to work within the periphery of the Mental health Social Work sector with a particular human being facing personal grief and trauma because of his/her disability. Conservative approaches propose a stereotyped process of handling victims of physical and mental disability, but postmodernism defines a more humanistic and effective process through which physically or mentally disabled individuals can be brought back to the normal course of life (Cuff et al. 2006).

Mental Health Law

Here in this essay, a vivid depiction will be delivered in order to illuminate the ways in which a counsellor can make effective use of critical approaches and can differ from traditional approaches to treat an individual with a disability. In the later part of the essay, I will try to provide a critical reflection on the particular process through which I, as a counsellor, could be able to work with individuals having a disability by the proper application critical theory of counselling.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has specifically defined “disability” as the term which encompasses a large variety of impairments, whether physical or mental, limitations in activity and restrictions in participation. Disability cannot always be treated as an inborn ailment; it can appear at any stage of life, depending on its nature. Disability can be classified in to five different categories and the categories are physical mobility, vision, hearing and learning difficulty (dyslexia), autistic disorders, Down’s syndrome and chronic medical difficulties.  Sometimes accidental damages bring disability in an individual, whereas in some other cases an individual gets disability at the time of his/her staying in the mother’s womb (Meekosha, 2005). Besides their physical ailments, the disabled individuals often have to be become the victims of social discrimination and ill treatment (Parton & O’Byrne 2000). They often experience ridicule and social oppression. The Government tries its hardest to provide social justice to the disabled. As an exhibition of its concern for the disabled, the Australian Government has passed the Disability Discrimination Act in 1992 (Goggin & Newell, 2005). The Act specifically tries to establish the social rights of the disabled and offer ample treatment opportunities for them in the forms of medical as well as psychological and social assistance.

For the support of the people with disability, reliance should be imposed on traditional medicines and alternative therapies. Gradually grows amongst them. People with disabilities often experience a range of social and emotional issues. A Counsellor must  go beyond the traditional concept of psychoanalysis. Postmodernism propagates the idea of a more holistic approach to counselling when supporting people who experience disability.

The Biomedical Model related to Mental health Case Study fixes its concentration on the physiological aspects of a diseased individual (Morley, 2010). This particular care model is utilized by the medical practitioners and counsellors in order to identify the specific traits of a disease or illness and the possible treatment for it. The specific approach directs a counsellor to adopt an objective role in supporting people with disabilities.. The counsellor needs to avoid a personalized approach and he/she must have to rely solely on available technique instead of taking a relationship based approach in treating the victim (Meekosha, 2005).

In the present situation, working with disability does not seem to be quite easy with a biomedical approach to counselling. As biomedical approach often does not allow a counsellor to include his/her own decisions, reflections and understandings in the treatment process, it will limit the capacity of the counsellor to input his/her own method when working with disability. Personal involvement of the counsellor may be necessary for the treatment of an individual who is feeling socially alienated due to his/her disability. Write about how the biomedical approach also denies the voice of the person who is experiencing the disability.

The individualistic or traditional approaches to counselling identify certain peculiar behavioural aspects of the victim as “symptoms”. Symptoms are basically the specific actions of an individual evaluating which a counsellor tries to design the treatment pattern. One of the main disadvantages of the individualistic approach lies in the fact that it cannot effectively successfully identify the specific needs of the victim. The approach fails to identify the main causes behind the symptoms of an ailing individual; rather it tries to relate these symptoms as the integral parts of an individual’s life and the individual must learn how to cop up with these symptoms. The individualistic approach to counselling does not effectively provide solutions to those who are suffering from psychological turmoil due to their physical or mental disability (White & Epston 1989). The approach does not render a counsellor ample chances to discover the real experiences of people living with disability. The symptoms that a disabled individual reflects have certain interrelation with the individual’s personal life, his/her social position, or incidents of oppression and humiliation that he/she has encountered (Meekosha & Dowse 1997). The very approach does not at all try to discover the hidden psychological turmoil that results in those symptoms, rather it tries to evaluate the present symptoms and formulate treatment of the disabled individual purely on the basis of his/her present state of mind. A diagnosis without considering the specific human needs of a diseased individual is vulnerable and it will not help the counsellor to provide proper treatment to the same.

Modern psychological theorists propose a particular form of psychological treatment, namely social approaches to counselling (Meekosha & Dowse, 1997). In this approach, greater attention is given to the physical environment of a diseased individual. The approach specifically investigates about the family background, educational qualification, socioeconomic status, cultural background and social connectedness of the diseased individual. Critical approaches wholeheartedly accept this particular aspect of social approaches. The followers of social approaches clearly announce that without a proper attention to the social environment of a diseased individual, proper psychoanalysis of the same is not possible (White & Epston 1989). The approach allows the counsellor to involve himself/herself in the personal life of the concerned individual. The counsellor needs to be in constant interaction with the families and friends of a disabled individual in order to identify the history of his/her disability. If the disability is of inborn in nature, the treatment of that individual would surely take a different way route as the individual would then get little chance to interact with society (Mullaly 2002). In a completely different note, if an individual acquires the disability in the later stages of his/her life, then it is essential to know the relation of the individual with his/her external environment before disability.

The social connectedness of an individual helps a counsellor to understand his/her way of treating others in the society and his/her possibility of returning to the normal course of life. In this case, the counsellor should try to involve the individual more and more in social milieu (Goggin & Newell, 2005). In order to provide support to an individual who is suffering from mental turmoil due to his/her disability, it is essential for a counsellor to understand incidents of social rejection or humiliation that the individual has to face because of his/her disability. It is also essential for the counsellor to know how his/her social surroundings changed their perception about the concerned individual after he/she has become disable, and why the particular individual reflects unnatural behaviour towards others as a part of his/her protest against the society. It is found from social research that disabled individuals often become victims of sexual exploitation and abuse, which also in a way compel them to feel withdrawn from the outer world (Cuff et al. 2006) .

Feminist approaches to counselling give birth to the picture of social oppression particularly discernible in case of women (Morley, 2010). By evaluating the social position of women even in the modern society, it is easily understandable that women are vulnerable to various forms of social injustice (White, 1995).

Starting from childhood, women have to face various incidents of social exploitation and social oppression in the form of sexual abuse, rape, molestation, ritual abuse and so on (Morley 2010). The pathetic social condition of women compels a good number of women to raise their voice against social injustice and form feminist movement. From this very movement, the notion of the feminist approach to counselling derives its shape.

The particular approach brings to the fore the fact that due to the vulnerability of women towards social oppression, women become more prone to become victims of psychological imbalance and find it really difficult to overcome the same. It is also found in researches that women with physical or mental disability possess greater chance of being exploited in the society (White, 1995). They become more vulnerable to psychological breakdown. In order to provide proper support to women suffering from a psychological break down due to their disability, feminist approaches propose certain directives following which a counsellor can earn success in handling them (Lowenstein 1983).

Firstly, a counsellor should not exert his/her power on the victim inappropriately. Secondly, the counsellor should be well aware of the strengths of women, their mental framework and their feelings and values (Cuff et al., 2006).Thirdly, the counsellor should try to build up a friendly relationship with the victim so that she can get chances of speedy recovery. Finally, the number of women should take up counselling as their profession, as they will be able to get a better understanding of the problems of women suffering from psychological imbalance due to their disability (Meekosh & Dowse, 1997). To conclude, it is the responsibility of a counsellor to maintain equality in the counsellor-client relationship, to raise consciousness in the client about the power discrimination which is rampant in the society and to build up interdependence between the two.

The ethical code of conduct applicable to the feminist approach of counselling brings to the fore certain essential responsibilities of a counsellor (White & Epston, 1989). The responsibilities are to interfere when the fundamental rights of the client are neglected, to amalgamate feminism and psychological theory in a single texture and to identify various avenues through which the counsellor can bring changes in the psychological framework of the client and to encourage the client to take the help of judicial system if she has encountered any incident of social exploitation and oppression (Morley, 2010).

Anti-oppressive approaches to counselling bring to the fore the experience of social injustice faced by an individual suffering from psychological break down (Meekosha & Dowse, 1997). The approach has a close resemblance with anti-discriminatory approach which deals extensively with unequal division of power (Lowenstein, 1983). The anti-oppressive approach speaks of more human approach to deal with psychological turmoil. The approach prefers to see incidents of social oppression purely on the basis of the affected individual’s gender, race, ethnicity, cultural background and enjoyment of social power (Parton & O’Byrne,2000) By following the principles of anti-oppressive approach, it can easily be stated that a woman belonging to an ethnic minority, who has got disability, possesses three times more chances of facing social oppression than a man of high social status having disability (Goggin & Newell 2005: 130). The particular approach compels counsellors to be more acquainted with the knowledge of various social classes, cultures and values, so that they can provide quality support to victims belonging to different races and socio-cultural background.

Postmodernism approach to counselling is a relatively new concept which poses ample stress on the conversational interchange between the counsellor and the victim (Meekosha, 2005). The approach specifically finds out the power of language and its ability to discover dormant facts remaining hidden under the psychological framework of the victim (Meekosha  & Dowse, 1997). The power imbalance of which the client is a victim and the oppressive “truths” that he/she encountered in his/her past life can only be brought to the fore with the help of proper communication process between the client and the counsellor (Mullaly, 2002).

Here the role of the counsellor is that of an explorer who will try to extract hidden feelings of pain that stay unattended in the minds of the victim (White, 1995). Sometimes incidents of negligence, abuse from family members or acquaintances can compel the victim to be violent in his/her own way of interacting with the external environment (Parton & O’Byrne, 2000). The counsellor has the responsibility of exploring these hidden facts from the victim and configures specific treatment plan for him/her.

Critical reflection provides the insight of a counsellor on his/her own experience of handling victims of disability. It contains the work process and techniques of a counsellor adopted with a vision to provide relief to the diseased individual (Cuff et al.2006).The primary aim of critical reflection lies in the fact that it records the experience of a counsellor in such an effective way that it could prove to be pathfinder for future counsellors also (Parton & O’Byrne, 2000). Here in this essay, I will try to deliver my own critical reflection as a counsellor who had the experience of handling victims suffering from psychological imbalance due to disability. On one occasion, the health setting under which I used to perform my practice of a counsellor offered me to handle the case of a sixteen year old boy suffering from psychological ailment due to his disability. On my first interaction with Sam, the 16 year old boy, I found that he at once recognised me as a representative of the health authority who enjoys power and with the help of that power I will try to control him. Thus his initial interaction with me was one of an unfriendly nature.

I saw an outrageous behaviour of him with which he tried his hardest to restrict me from entering into his life. I found it quite surprising that a 16 year old boy can have so much aversion towards power and control. This power has not generated in a day, from the childhood due to the physical deformities may be he was outskated from the healthy family and friendly back ground to grow up in the life. So the boy become mentally rigid and make an own boundary in side in his mind which I was failed to cross primarily.

My next meeting onwards, I tried to relinquish the emblem of power attached with my professional self and tried to mingle with Sam as a friend of his. After clearing the initial hurdles of rejection, I was able to win the confidence of Sam and slowly he started unfolding his inner self in front of me. After several counselling session with him, I was able to know that the boy is the victim of social depravation. Sam was nine when he faced a road accident and became physically disabled. Soon after his accident, his friends, family members and acquaintances changed their perception about Sam to such an extent that the little kid could not withstand it and became the victim of psychosis. Even his own mother started showing a strong dislike for him, which mentally shattered the innocent boy.

From my very first meeting with Sam, I have never tried to show sympathy to him, instead I preferred to install a sense of self courage in him. It would help him to get out of his psychological bankruptcy. I even tried to make his friends and family member understand that the ill effects that they were carrying for Sam. I never tried to rectify his psychological self by excluding him from the society, rather I tried to involve him in society and let him mingle in his surroundings. It is necessary to declare that I have achieved success in taking Sam out of his psychological bankruptcy and I have made it possible only with my strong belief in the critical approaches to counselling.