There are two factors that contribute to iatrogenic harm. These are:
- The introduction of a new belief system to the client. When presenting case formulations, therapists may introduce their clients to a system of viewing behavior. In this system, the therapist should know his client to the extent that this knowledge exceeds what the client knows about himself. These systems may encompass assumptions that aggravate the suffering that the client is currently going through. As such, the clients who are distressed may be vulnerable and will thus accept these assumptions without any questions. This makes the client feel inferior (Anestis, 2012).
- Biased judgment due to psychiatric labels. These labels help understand behavior. However, they can also influence the judgment to be rendered. Labels suggest that psychiatric conditions are manifestations of some internal causes of diseases. If therapists embrace this view, their understanding of the extensive human experiences may be limited. Consequently, they may assume that these conditions turn into diseases that cannot be treated (Boisvert & Faust, 2002).
The introduction of a new belief system to the client may have adverse effects on him/her as well as the processes of prevention, intervention, and consultation as a whole. Therapists may be so committed to their belief system that they will sideline any alternative view of the client. It may happen if the alternatives do not coincide with the beliefs of the therapist. Such a situation makes the client feel inferior and wrong, which may in turn increase distress. This dejection may reduce the client’s involvement in the consultation process thereby undermining the process of treatment (Anestis, 2009).
Biased judgment based on psychiatric labels has some negative effects. First, the therapist may tend to focus on the patient instead of the situation. That is why the behaviors of the client may be attributed to the wrong causes. As a result, the treatment prescribed should produce undesired results. For instance, explaining the behavior of a client by psychological diseases rather than issues in the family may affect self-esteem of the client, which will, in turn, increase depression. As a result, the client may abandon the treatment and then suffer from a low self-esteem for a long time (Boisvert & Faust, 2002).
Iatrogenic effect can be minimized. The therapist should identify the client’s natural support system potential to cure the condition. This will help the client understand the assumptions better. The natural support system may even resolve some of the problems on its own. The therapist should also encourage people close to the client to support the therapy. This will increase the chances of the client to successfully deal with a problem if it occurs in the future without professional help.
Before formulating a judgment, the therapist should consider alternate conclusions on the condition of a client. It may also be helpful for the therapist to take into account that the client may be undergoing a difficult phase in his life which will eventually pass, and thus there is no need for therapy. This is because a person’s life experience may be vast and not related to a certain psychiatric label. This will, in turn, reduce any effect that may result from a biased judgment (Boisvert & Faust, 2002).
Iatrogenic harm is any disorder that is caused by the actions of a healthcare professional or treatment accorded to a patient but does not support what the patient desires. This harm may be encountered when the therapist is trying to reduce the effects of depression, comforting or administering treatment to the client. In decision-making, multicultural issues play a major role. They help ensure that any decision arrived upon is both ethical and professional. Therefore, cultural, ethnic or national origin does not in any way impair or bias the decisions of psychologists. As such, factors like individual, cultural or role differences do not contribute to the condoning of any prejudices (American Psychological association, 2002).
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