St Patrick’s Day is a well-known Irish holiday celebrated on March 17th since early 9th century. Irish folklore explains the priest, St. Patrick, used the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the pagan Irish folk.
The shamrock has three separate leafs which are united by one common stem just as the Trinity has three separated entities united by one common purpose. Today the wearing and displaying of shamrocks has become a unique feature of St. Patrick’s Day. But the concept of three separate entities united by one common stem can be a helpful symbol for all of us.
Good mental health has three leaves called a bio-psycho-social approach. When all three leaves are healthy the client or stem functions well.
Bio is short for biology meaning we look at the biological reasons the body responds the way it does. Often solutions for clients with a biological problem include a pharmaceutical approach using drugs such as anti depressants or mood stabilizers to eliminate distressful symptoms.
Psycho is short for psychological and frequently clients respond to therapy designed to increase insight and provide new coping skills.
The third leaf is social which means we look at a client’s social support networks such as family and friends. We examine how a client’s support system can be reinforced to strengthen a client in a difficult period. Or if the environment is harmful, we help the client find new support systems to insure recovery. So on
St. Patrick’s Day as we wear green and celebrate Irish culture, let’s tip our glass to old St. Pat and the shamrock illustrating a life of biological balance, psychological wisdom, strong social support systems. Kiss the Irish, and thank them for the symbol of good mental health and higher self esteem!
Camille Curtis Foster, MSW, LCSW
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