Wellness in Counseling
Wellness refers to a holistic approach in which mind, body, and spirit are integrated. It is a way of life oriented toward optimal health and well-being in which body, mind, and spirit are integrated in a purposeful manner with a goal of living life more fully
(Myers, Sweeney, & Witmer, 2000)
Wellness is more than the absence of disease, a state defined as “health,” and incorporates a concern for optimal functioning. Wellness has been defined as a new paradigm in health care (Larson, 1999), a strengths-based approach to mental health care (Smith, 2001), and as the paradigm for counseling and development (Myers, 1992). Over the past 2 1/2 decades, a variety of models of wellness have been proposed, the earliest ones being based in the physical health professions (e.g., Hettler, 1984; Ardell, 1977), and the most recent reflecting correlates of psychological well-being identified through the positive psychology movement (Seligman, 2002; Snyder & Lopez, 2001).
Two current models are based in counseling theory, specifically Adlerian Individual Psychology. The first, the Wheel of Wellness, is a theoretical model introduced in the early 1990s (Sweeney & Witmer, 1991; Witmer & Sweeney, 1992) and later modified to incorporate new findings relative to issues of diversity and self direction (Myers, Sweeney, & Witmer, 2000). As was true of earlier models, the Wheel model evolved from an examination of the existing knowledge base relative to components of wellness and was measured using the Wellness Evaluation of Lifestyle (WEL).
Research using the Wheel model and an assessment instrument based on that model led to the development of a new model, The Indivisible Self, based on structural equation modeling with a large data base (Hattie, Myers, & Sweeney, 2004). This evidence-based model includes a three-level factor structure, with one higher order wellness factor, five second order factors of the self, and 17 third order factors. The components of this model are assessed with the Five Factor Wellness Inventory (5F-Wel).
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