Emotional Well-Being Defined
Historically, psychology and psychiatry have focused primarily upon various types of mental disorders and pathology. It has only been about the past 10-15 years that psychology has turned more attention to well-being and happiness. The field of “positive psychology” embodies this movement. Well-being, in this view, is living a life that results in deep-rooted joy, contentment, peace of mind, and satisfying interpersonal relationships. People who have a strong sense of well-being generally believe their lives matter, that their actions can lead to positive changes, and they have a purpose or meaning. People who describe themselves as generally happy do experience negative emotions, of course, since they are natural and healthy reactions to events and situations. However, feelings such as sadness, anxiety, and anger are transitory and appropriate to the situation. People who describe themselves as happy are typically successful in major life domains: at work/school, with family and friends, and in romantic relationships.
Psychological Problems Defined
While everyone experiences emotional ups and downs in life, if a person’s mood, worries, or relationship patterns begin to interfere significantly with their day-to-day functioning, there is a need for psychological intervention to help the person get back on track in life and improve his/her well-being. Some problems that can be the focus on intervention include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, eating disorders, and thought disorders. In addition, more ingrained behavior patterns called personality disorders can be included in this category.
Some indications that psychological help may be needed:
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Drastic changes in appetite or weight
- Persistent unwelcome thoughts or worries
- Irritability and/or anger outbursts
- Difficulty holding a job
- Sudden decrease in school or work performance
- Frequent episodes of unexpected or uncontrollable crying
- Loss of interest in activities
- Compulsive behavior
- Seeing or hearing things that others do not see or hear
Counseling or psychotherapy has been shown to help people overcome these problems. For some individuals, psychiatric medication in combination with counseling/psychotherapy can be useful as well. While many factors contribute to positive outcomes, understanding the nature of the problem is an important first step to effectively addressing it.
Assessments for Psychological or Emotional Reasons
When a child or adult’s behavior begins to impair his or her functioning at home, work, or school, a comprehensive psychological assessment may be warranted. Sadness, anxiety, lack of focus, irritability, and impulsive behavior may be related to many different causes. A thorough evaluation of personality features and current emotional and behavior concerns can provide clarity and options as you search for solutions. Psychological assessments for emotional reasons can be used to:
- Obtain accommodations or special services in school or college (e.g., special education or 504 services)
- Clarify how learning disabilities are related to a person’s emotional or behavior concerns
- Assist in making an accurate diagnosis when the source of the problem is unclear. For example, when trying to distinguish whether behavior concerns are the result of ADD/ADHD or a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder
- Obtain recommendations for managing difficult emotional or behavior problems
What is Involved in an Assessment
Assessments for psychological and emotional reasons include a thorough review of a client’s history, a comprehensive clinical interview, standardized questionnaires and checklists, as well as more projective measures and tests to clarify diagnoses and personality features. A brief screening or full assessment of intellectual and academic abilities may be included as well.
When to Consider an Assessment Versus Therapy
A comprehensive psychological assessment is not needed for all emotional and behavioral concerns. Often the problems and solutions can be identified through psychotherapy/counseling, especially when the source of the problems is fairly clear or already known. However, to obtain specialized services through certain school or government programs or when the problems are many and complex, a psychological assessment is beneficial and often required.
If you have additional questions or would like to set up an appointment with one of our professionals, please contact us at (512) 891-1500.