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Issues and Debates – A History of Psychological Practice

2. The Biopsychosocial Model

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In this lecture, we think about the biopsychosocial model, focusing in particular on: (i) the problems which can arise when too much emphasis is placed on understanding what is going on inside someone, rather than the context within which they are experiencing these events; (ii) the content of George Engel’s biopsychosocial model, divided into biological, psychological and social considerations; (iii) social contexts, including cultural surroundings, country of residence, immediate social circles, and group identities (iv) the prevalence of diagnoses of particular conditions, such as schizophrenia, across different groups; (v) the recent research into adverse childhood experiences and their influence on health and wellbeing.


In this course, Dr Marc Williams (Cardiff University) explores the history of psychological practice, contextualised primarily around our understanding of mental health. In the first lecture, we think about how normality has been classified over time, looking at classification manuals like the DSM and ICD, and some of the consequences of differing classifications. In the second lecture, we think about the biopsychosocial model and its influence over the elements of cognitive behavioural therapy. Next, we think about psychological formulation and its more holistic view of clients undergoing therapy. In the fourth and final lecture, we think about the balance of power between therapist and patient/client, and how this has changed to become more equal over time.


Dr Marc Williams is a senior academic tutor and honorary senior lecturer in the School of Psychology at Cardiff University. His university work centres around the doctoral programme in clinical psychology, including supervising doctoral theses and supporting trainees. Dr Williams’ research interests include eating disorders and people’s relationship with their environment. Some of Dr Williams' recent publications include 'Attentional bias in eating disorders: a meta review' (2021) and 'The relationship between climate change and mental health information-seeking: a preliminary investigation' (2020).

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APA style

Williams, M. (2022, March 15). Issues and Debates – A History of Psychological Practice - The Biopsychosocial Model [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Williams, M. "Issues and Debates – A History of Psychological Practice – The Biopsychosocial Model." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Mar 2022,

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