Mental health diagnoses and relationship breakdown: Which is the chicken and which the egg?

Abstract

Clients in therapy are typically diagnosed with mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression. However, recent statistics show that romantic relationship difficulties are one of the most common reasons for people to seek counselling in the first place. A series of 15 semi-structured interviews with psychologists around Australia revealed that romantic relationship difficulties are under-recognised in the counselling context and sometimes diagnosed and treated as anxiety or depression. Interviews also revealed that most psychologists prefer to use a nonevidenced-based approach in relationship counselling. Consequently, there is a major gap in the literature regarding the effect of romantic relationship breakdown on the mental health of individuals. Further, there are few evidence-based interventions for individual and couples experiencing romantic relationship difficulties. Therefore, it is important that psychologists explore the core issues the client is experiencing that trigger presentation for therapy prior to diagnosis.

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