Does our model of mental ill-health need updating?




There is growing body of research that suggests our current model of mental illness is outdated. The dominant psychiatric model assumes that mental illness is a random response within our minds and is based on a chemical imbalance within our mind, which requires pharmaceutical medication to address that chemical imbalance. This model also assumes that people may develop symptoms due to a variety of factors including a genetic predisposition compounded by environmental stressors. Either way the treatment response is typically medication to address the chemical imbalance. These days CBT is often offered to address the automatic thinking/behavioural dynamic linked to the symptoms and outcomes.


There is a viable alternative model which is known as the psychological injury model. This purports that it is psychological injuries endured through life that is the main foundation to most mental ill-health symptoms and this is where we should start in assessment and treatment. This article is informed by Dr Kuelker article Why the ‘Psychological Injury Model’ Will Ultimately Triumph, in which he refers to at least 4 groups of psychological injury endured when people are subject to marked neglect, abuse, disrespect, chaos in their social environment or when they experience a traumatic event (or a mixture). The 4 groups include:


Childhood trauma as a psychological injury

Stressful life events as a psychological injury

Toxic Boss as a psychological injury

Trauma in Adulthood as a psychological injury


Click on the link for more information on what Dr Kuelker has to say about how these contribute to mental ill-health depression and anxiety.


A new measure

Rather than being diagnosis focused, ie you have X symptoms therefore you have this diagnosis which Y medication will help with, the psychological injury model, starts with peoples life history, placing them at front and centre of their life experience and dis-ease. The objective is to map out when there has been emotional distress in their life and seek to address/let go of unresolved emotions (PI) linked to incidents, experiences or relationships that have caused the psychological injury. Medication may be useful for short term periods of time to bring some degree of balance to enable a useful discussion about life history. Otherwise its about letting go of distressing emotions that are stored in the amygdala, a part of the brain which stores trauma memory. The brain natural stores and encodes trauma memory to protect us from recurring trauma, e.g. by unconsciously avoiding learned danger, but it can also get in the way of achieving our goals and generate unhealthy behaviours which serve to drown out the inner emotional turmoil, or sense of gap within oneself, due to the unresolved emotion (PI). The involuntary adjustments in our emotions, thoughts and behaviours that we make in response to the injury become part of our identity over time.


New Psycho-sensory therapy

Havening Techniques is a biological healing technique which helps to let-go of unresolved and unwanted emotions encoded within the amygdala. Also known as Amygdala De-potentiation Therapy.


Click on this link to access an audio of an interview with Jenny, who has agreed for me to share her experience and the benefits of Havening. Jenny is an example of someone who had experienced a psychological injury from her mother passing 20 years prior in her adulthood. She was not diagnosed but subjectively she expressed symptoms of anxiety and depressive type symptoms. After 2 sessions of Havening and ongoing self Havening, Jenny no longer has sleep problems, anxiety and involuntary tearfulness and this has now been ongoing for a year since the Havening sessions in March 2018. Listen to the audio recording here.


Author: Jan Carpenter

(Bsc, DipSW, PGDipMS, DipCoaching, Havening Techniques Practitioner)


Jan is a certified Havening Techniques® Practitioner and a student of neurofeedback.  It complements a decade of certified coaching, NLP and training delivery and 2 decades as a qualified social worker, specialising in safeguarding adults, adult mental health and senior practitioner roles through to interim team management.


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©2020 Turn Over a New LEAF is a trading name of Solution Focused People Ltd. Proudly created with Wix.com. Jan Carpenter is a certified practitioner of Havening Techniques. Havening Techniques is a registered trade mark of Ronald Ruden, 15 East 91st Street, New York. www.havening.org