Psychological models do not rely on diagnosis; rather, they attempt to understand an individual’s problem in the light of their history and context and in the light of psychological theories about human functioning.Psychological models allow for multiple causes of mental health problems (biological, social and circumstantial), but privilege an understanding of dysfunctional psychological processes.Much psychological research focuses on childhood adversity and poor early attachment as an important cause of mental health problems.Myriad different schools of therapy and psychological thought have developed over the years, each focusing on different psychological processes involved in mental health problems and each attempting to manipulate those processes in order to resolve mental health problems.What many schools have in common is providing a formulation of a client’s difficulties. A formulation draws on psychological theories and research in order to provide a structure for describing a client’s distress, how it developed and how it is being maintained.The major schools of psychological thought include behaviourism, cognitive behavioural therapy and psychodynamic theories. Other important contributions have been made by person-centred theories, systemic therapy and Gestalt therapy.Historically these theories have evolved either from empirical scientific traditions (behaviourism) or from mental health clinics and hospitals (psychodynamic theories).The evidence base supporting psychological therapies presents a complex picture. There is evidence for various therapies, but typically with respect to specific clinical populations and presentations.
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