Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An introduction to the concept of wellness

Over the last two years I've become increasingly interested in the ideas of health & wellness, and how these  sorts of issues play out both in the counseling session, as well as the general lives of the clients that I see. Over the last two years, I've tried as best as possible to implement elements of wellness into my life, not only to help me to be the healthiest person that I can be, but also so I can in turn help my clients implement components of wellness into their lives as well. Wellness is something that I am completely passionate about, and believe deeply in the importance of incorporating it into daily life.

Historically, wellness was predominantly viewed as the absence of identified pathology.  Thus, the absence of an anxiety disorder, depression, or eating disorder was equated with health (Hattie, Myers, & Sweeney, 2004). However, neutrality does not equal health (Keyes, 2007). Instead, the enlarging concept of “health” suggests that it is the presence of positive components in life that leads to wellness and mental health (Roscoe, 2009). These positive components are not necessarily an automatic feature of daily life, and therefore must be intentionally incorporated.  Many of these components require continual attention and focus (e.g. nutrition, physical exercise, or friendship relationships), as wellness levels change throughout the lifespan, depending on specific circumstances and environment. Furthermore, both active and passive wellness choices in early stages of development (such as among undergraduate students), may affect overall wellness later in life such as at age sixty and seventy (Myers, Sweeney, & Witmer, 2000).

It's important to remember that wellness isn't JUST physical health or emotional health, but it is a number of characteristics or components combining together that creates wellness. And each of these components need to be attended to on a regular basis to ensure that health and wellness exist. I hope to incorporate health & wellness concepts throughout this blog, and I figured that now is a good time to begin writing, as people usually start to develop new years resolutions. Examine the various areas of your life, and see what areas of strength are, and what are the areas of improvement in the different components of wellness in your life! 

Hattie, J.A., Myers, J.E., & Sweeney, T.J. (2004). A factor structure of wellness: Theory, assessment, analysis and practice. Journal of Counseling and Development, 82, 354-364.
Keyes, C.L.M. (2007). Promoting and protecting mental health as flourishing: A complementary strategy for improving national mental health. American Psychologist, 62, 95-108.
Myers, J.E., Sweeney, T.J., & Witmer, M. (2000). The wheel of wellness counseling for wellness: A holistic model for treatment planning. Journal of Counseling & Development, 78, 251-266.
Roscoe, L.J. (2009). Wellness: A review of theory and measurement for counselors. Journal of Counseling & Development, 87, 216-226. 

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