The Biopsychosocial Assessment
The Biopsychosocial assessment is a tool used by mental health professionals to assess where a client is at the present moment. It is a three-part examination that includes the biological, psychological, and social elements of a persons functioning as an individual, a part of a family system, and in society at-large. Much of the concerns raised by the client can be better understood through a review of these areas of influence and personal functioning.
The biological element deals with issues that affect the client physically like illnesses, disease, medication, diet, drug use, etc. This is the body-behavior element of the assessment. Some medications will influence mood, sleep, and levels of lethargy that contribute to conditions such as depression and anxiety. Other areas such as Hyper-/hypothyroidism can impact cognition, perception, mood, and behavior. Hyperthyroidism is a contributor to feelings of anxiety and in severe cases may contribute to the development of psychotic episodes. A client may encounter questions concerning topics such as:
1. Medical Diagnoses
2. Physical challenges and disorders
3. Medications being taken
4. Alcohol consumption habits/abuse/addiction
5. Illicit drug use/abuse/addiction
The biological category allows for the identification of medical or physiological conditions that contribute to the concerns of the client that may need to be addressed by a medical doctor. In treating any conditions or possible medication interactions a person's distressing behaviors and/or cognitions may resolve. In other cases, a discovery of a need for psychiatric teaming may occur that will lead to a joint treatment effort that assists the client. Conditions such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism are examples of hormone imbalances that contribute to cognitive and behavioral problems. Other endocrinological conditions also impact thought, perception, and behavior.
The psychological element, as would be expected, assesses the psychological factors that impact a person's feelings, emotions, etc. In this section there are going to be questions regarding:
1. Self-esteem (Self-Value)
2. Self-Efficacy (How well the client believes he/she can accomplish goals in life)
3. depressive symptoms
4. Anxiety Symptoms
5. Mood patterns
6. History of Trauma
7. Developmental status/assessment
8. History of Psychiatric diagnoses and treatment
10. Cognitive functioning
11. Suicide ideation/history of attempts
These eleven are not the only areas that will be assessed during the intake interview and periodically throughout the counseling process. Additionally, informal and formal assessment questionnaires may also be completed in order for the therapist to get a full picture of the client's psychological state as of the time of the assessment.
This section deals with the social factors that impact the client. Here the therapist will ask questions concerning the client's community involvement, family and friend support, community support and resources, employment and employability, and hindrances to social participation. Support and resources are very important to a person's ability to cope and overcome adversity. We are all inherently social beings and isolation has a profoundly negative impact on us.
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A Clinical Counselor and Human Behavior Researcher