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´╗┐The Historical Role Of Psychologists In Mental Health Treatment


The historical role of psychologists has been in the mental heath treatment field where they worked with patients in determining the underlying emotional and behavioral issues that were preventing the patient from reaching his or her personal goals. Probably the best known historical role of psychologists in private treatment and in mental health facilities has been in working with individuals with depression, bi-polar disorder and personality disorders. Often the personal insight gained by the patient through working with the psychologist has resulting in the change in the patients thoughts, feeling and behavior, leading to more managed depression or mental health disorder.

As with any field of mental health the historical role of the psychologists has not always been valued, especially by some professionals that see mental health as a "soft science" that is not as based in clinical and laboratory findings as the medical sciences. Psychology or the study of human behavior and interactions has been around since the early Greeks, but it was not until the early 1800's that psychology became recognized by those working in the emerging field of mental health and behavior. The historical role of the psychologists at this time was more to screen or attempt to categorize different types of individuals, with the German army first using psychological screening for officer candidates in the early 1920's.

Some of the most famous psychologists attempted to describe human behavior based on very specific, observable changes. These individuals are now famous for the schools of thought that they developed on psychology. One of the most famous of these individuals that helped to clearly define the historical role of psychologists was Sigmund Freud. In 1900 Sigmund Freud first introduced the concept of psychoanalysis, which has largely been misrepresented and misunderstood by individuals outside of the profession. Abraham Maslow later developed the hierarchy of human needs that indicated that basic needs such as food, shelter, air and reproduction must first be met, then the higher needs of safety and security, followed by the need for love and attention, followed by the last group, the self actualization needs. Each level had to have the needs met for the individual to move up the pyramid or ladder. This understanding of humanistic psychology changed the historical role of the psychologists from one of reacting after the problem to one of helping the individual identify what the problem was in a proactive manner.

As psychologists continue to learn more about the interaction of human thoughts, feeling and emotions as well as interactions it is likely that the field of psychology will continue to advance and change, built on the strong foundation developed by the historical role of the psychologists that were the developers of the science.