Mental Health Theories That Shaped Modern-Day Psychology


When it comes to the discipline of the mind, theories were formed left and right, influencing today’s psychological evaluations and applications.  Theories, by definition, are based on statements of possibilities for some natural occurrence and are usually supported by evidence. Theories relating to science are most likely based on a certain framework with multiple probabilities and explanations. When a theory is presented, it becomes a concept to be tested.

…just a bit of historical perspective reminds us of how far we have come and how important our increasingly person-centered values are and continue to be as we work together to shape the future of health care delivery for generations to come. — Blake Griffin Edwards LMFT

The theoretical foundation for psychological interpretations is currently used as standards for comprehending manifestations of human emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. Mental health theories usually have two basic components – the behavioral description and prognosis for subsequent actions.   Since the discovery of psychology, there have been several theories that were proposed in order to elaborate and surmise different facets of individual behavior. While other theories were dismissed due to its weak premise and presented evidence, some were able to pull through and are currently being used by medical practitioners, and some were reconditioned by researchers.

  1. Grand mental health theories

There are six types of grand theories formulated by a few renowned, historic personalities like Erik Erikson, Jean Piaget, and Sigmund Freud.The development proposed by grand mental health theories often contain the learning, cognitive, and psychoanalytic theories that collectively explain the entirety of a human’s behavior towards oneself and the society. Currently, researchers and psychologists continually use these grand mental health theories to expand the basis of examination.

  1. Developmental mental health theories

Considered as one of the more popular theories, the developmental mental health theories have is said to have a high influence on our present-day psychology. A lot of relevant psychological studies applied as of this date has derived much of their explorations through the concepts and principles devised by developmental mental health theories. This mostly describes human development in such a way that focuses on growth and formation throughout the years like in Erik Erikson’s case, the psychosocial development theory.

Since 1985, we have since learned that psychosocial skills and insider knowledge interact with ability to enhance the likelihood of progress to the next level of talent development, and we do have some ideas about which psychosocial skills matter broadly across domains. — Jonathan Wai Ph.D.

  1. Behavioral mental health theories

Behaviorism, an approach that is aimed at understanding human and animal behavior through systematic mechanisms and experiments, theorizes that behaviors can be learned through the process of conditioning. Through people’s interaction with their environment, conditioning happens. Behaviorists somehow believed that people’s responses to any form of environmental stimulant trigger their actions.

  1. Social mental health theories

This is mainly based on the interpretation, perception, and explanation of a person’s social behavior. These are paradigms created to broaden social phenomena encompassing certain ideas involving the changes in the society and the influence of ethnicity, love and relationships, gender, social structure and behavior, civilization, and modernization.

  1. Humanistic mental health theories

Emerged in the 1950s, humanistic mental health theories are popularized by Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers as those theories emphasizing the fundamental morality of humans. Humanistic theorists believed that individuals are mainly defined by their perception of their surroundings and are motivated to become successful in gaining maximum potentials.

All moral disengagement techniques are tricks to get people to accept behaviors that they would otherwise immediately recognize as unethical and unfair. — Sherry Hamby Ph.D.

  1. Cognitive mental health theories

Mainly centered on how human minds think, cognitive mental health theories is considered as one of the most modern theories being used by psychologists. While other theories consider other factors like chemical imbalances in the brain and genetics, the cognitive psychological theory assumes that humans behave accordingly on how they think and can also be explained by the stimuli responses.

  1. Personality mental health theories

Governed by the idea that a person’s behavior, thoughts, and feelings, personality psychology is aimed at examining these patterns and correlating them to what makes an individual stand out. By highlighting the uniqueness of a person, theorists have devoted their time to study the traits and characteristics that others lack or do not possess. In a broader perspective, theories revolving with personality psychology tend to address a broader concern of how it is to be a real person.   Answers are built on theories   Having a deeper sense of understanding and differentiating one theory from another improves your general view of psychology. Theories may seem insignificant but one must take into consideration that, treatments and therapies revolving around mental health are derived from these theories; making them as solid foundations for the modern psychology.