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Power Meaning Threat Framework debated at Scottish event

02 November 2018

Today a scientific meeting in Glasgow discussed the Power Meaning Threat Framework (PMTF) document published by our Division of Clinical Psychology earlier this year.

Dr Lucy Johnstone and Professor Mary Boyle, showed how the document has offered a new perspective on why people experience mental distress.

The PMTF summarises and integrates evidence about the role of various kinds of power in people’s lives, the kinds of threat the misuse of that power pose to us and the ways we have learnt to respond to those threats.

In traditional mental health practice, threat responses are sometimes called ‘symptoms’.

However, the PMTF looks instead at how we make sense of these difficult experiences and how messages from wider society can increase our feelings of shame, fear and guilt.

Lucy Johnstone said:

"The PMTF can be used as a way of helping people to create more hopeful narratives or stories about their lives and the difficulties they have faced or are still facing, instead of seeing themselves as weak, deficient or ‘mentally ill’.

It highlights and clarifies the links between wider social factors such as poverty, discrimination and inequality, along with traumas such as abuse and violence, and the resulting emotional distress or troubled behaviour.

It also shows why those of us who do not have an obvious history of trauma or adversity can still struggle to find a sense of self-worth, meaning and identity. “

The event was followed by the annual general meeting of our Division of Clinical Psychology Scotland.

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