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Ecological Psychology, Essay Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1419

Essay

Discussion of the Case

The client, Mr. Graham, is a 65-year-old male, presents without a history of mental disorders. He has been able to maintain employment following his involvement in the Vietnam War and reports that he is proud of the work he does. Based on his description, it appears that Mr. Graham is a very independent individual that prefers to not seek help from others. He is currently experiencing trouble with his sister, one of his only living family members. She has used her parent’s estate to meet her boyfriend’s gambling debts, and Mr. Graham has never seen his share of his family’s inheritance as a consequence. He is currently fighting a legal battle to retrieve rights to this property. Furthermore, Mr. Graham reports having a less than ideal family history which may be due in part to his mother’s experience with alcoholism.

Recently, Mr. Graham was invited to move in with his uncle in Virginia. This was done in part to ensure financial stability because Mr. Graham demonstrated that he was concerned about his financial well-being after his inability to claim the funds left to him by his parents. He believed that he would be able to live off of the funds from the sale of his home and annuity. Furthermore, he aimed to engage the help of his uncle in finding a new job in the photography industry, which was done successfully.

However, after some time, Mr. Graham began to encounter problems associated with his new lifestyle. The home that he had purchased in Virginia was located near a river, contributing to frequently flooding and damage of his home. This was problematic because he did not hold flood insurance. A majority of his savings went into the repairs of his home. To make matters worse, he was diagnosed with cancer shortly thereafter. Even though Mr. Graham was eligible for health insurance coverage, he opted for natural treatment instead. While this treatment appeared to be effective, it was expensive and required him to use the remainder of his savings. After this, Mr. Graham was unable to find a job and unwilling to simply take financial support from his friends.

To make matters even worse, Mr. Graham is currently living in a home that is poorly repaired and he is unable to find the contractor. He is beginning to sell his belongings to support himself and his house has been foreclosed. Furthermore, his uncle has recently passed away and he has withdrawn himself from his friends. While Mr. Graham had previously reported that he was an optimistic individual, he now feels anxious and hopeless. Overall, he feels trapped in the problems that have been presented to him.

Discussion of Issues from an Ecological Perspective

According to the ecological perspective, “perception and action are one and the same thing, and that an observer and the environment are an inseparable pair” (Hermes, n.d.). Therefore, Mr. Graham’s perceptions are related to his actions. When he is faced with problems, instead of choosing to take concrete actions, Mr. Graham lies dormant and hopes that his problems will be solved. Initially, he is wronged when his sister takes the inheritance money to support her significant other’s gambling problem, and Mr. Graham attempts to retaliate by taking legal action. However, when this initial action does not work, he quickly gives up and attempts to change his lifestyle in order to compensate for this loss of money. It is apparent that Mr. Graham is one for quickly accepting losses instead of engaging in meaningful change to support his happiness (Barker, 1968).

The connection between Mr. Graham’s perceptions and actions become apparent once again when his home is flooded. Since this occurs multiple times and Mr. Graham has not purchased flood insurance, it is apparent that he is willing to take chances that such a tragedy will not occur again. However, his lack of action directly contributes to recurring flooding, which is ultimately why his house is foreclosed. When his friends attempt to provide him help, Mr. Graham denies this because he wants to be in control of his own life. However, in doing so, he chooses to maintain control by failing to take action, which provides him with a greater challenge for survival.

It appears that Mr. Graham is experiencing depression because his lack of action is contributing to a devastation of his surroundings. He has lived in a home that is in extreme disrepair for a period of time, he has familial tensions with his sister, his uncle his died, he has just survived cancer, and he has withdrawn himself from his closest friends. Thus, it could be said that Mr. Graham’s depression is present as a direct result of his environment (Norman, 1998). Since he has surrounded himself in negativity, he is generating this negativity as his primary mental state.

Goals and Objectives for Each Level of the Ecological Model

At the individual level, it will be valuable for Mr. Graham to reach out towards his sister and repair the damaged relationship that they have. This is important because this is a factor that has impacted Mr. Graham’s history for a long period of time and it would likely feel rewarding for him to take steps to repair this relationship. This objective does not need to result in a friendship, but mere contact in order to be considered successful. Next, it will be beneficial for Mr. Graham to repair his personal relationships by reaching back out to the friends that he has abandoned. To do so, Mr. Graham will first need to cope with and understand that these individuals were only trying to help him and he should not react by feeling offended when this help is offered. To reach this objective, Mr. Graham should schedule a coffee date with his former friends and discuss the reasons for his withdrawal. Next, Mr. Graham should take the necessary steps to re-enter the community. To do so, he should continue to seek employment as a photographer or act as a freelancer. To achieve this objective, it will be recommended that Mr. Graham apply for at least three jobs. If this is not possible, he will be asked to perform volunteering opportunities to achieve this objective. Last, Mr. Graham will be asked to visit a doctor to screen his physical health. One visit will be necessary to achieve this objective. Doing so will relieve the socioeconomic strains imposed on him by the natural remedies he elected to have for his cancer treatment.

Diagnostic Impression of Mr. Graham

According to the DSM-V, several symptoms must be met to provide a diagnosis of depression in addition to related depressive orders. It would be valuable to meet with Mr. Graham for more counseling sessions in order to rule out variations of the disorder. A physical examination would also be beneficial for this purpose. When examining whether Mr. Graham falls into the category of major depressive disorder, it is apparent that he is displaying a depressed mood because of his willingness to cut off his communication with his friends in addition to reports of hopelessness and anxiety. Furthermore, he has demonstrated a loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities, such as his love for working and photography. It also appears that he has loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness, and diminished ability to make decisions (Andrews et al., 2007). Based on these characteristics, it is most likely that Mr. Graham has major depressive disorder. However, it will be necessary to continue observing him over time to determine whether this is the case in reality.

In order to be certain that Mr. Graham has major depressive disorder, it is beneficial to rule out other common disorders that have symptoms similar to depression. For example, this episode likely does not fall under the category of bereavement because depression symptoms appear to have occurred prior to the death of Mr. Graham’s uncle. Furthermore, the disorder does not appear to be indicative of bipolar disorder because Mr. Graham’s symptoms are not marked by a significant change in energy. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that Mr. Graham most likely has major depressive disorder and he should be provided with treatment on this basis.

References

Andrews, G. et al. (2007). Dimensionality and the category of major depressive episode. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 16(S1): S41–S51.

Barker, R. G. (1968). Ecological psychology: Concepts and methods for studying the environment of human behavior. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Hermes, D.J. (n.d.). Ecological Psychology – General. Retrieved from http://home.ieis.tue.nl/dhermes/lectures/soundperception/09EcologicalPsychology1.html

Norman, D. (1988). The psychology of everyday things. New York, NY: Basic Books.

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