Psychology of disability: concept and characteristics

  • Jul 26, 2021
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Psychology of disability: concept and characteristics

The human being is an ordinary man in search of an extraordinary destiny. The person with a disability is an extraordinary being, in search of a common destiny. The profile of each person, whether disabled or not, is made up of strengths and weaknesses related to the environment in which each one operates, the capacity for emotional control, psychological balance, social skills, greater or lesser vulnerability to agents that generate anxiety or stress, etc.

Disability is not a characteristic of the subject, but the result of his individuality in relation to the demands that the environment places on him. The type and degree of disability that the person suffers, prevents him from using his own means of autonomously, being forced to look for other alternatives to satisfy their needs essential. Within the framework of our institution, it is there where the counselors must act, guiding the inmates so that they can develop activities according to their personal characteristics, train for self-worth and achieve integration to the social environment in which they are inserted, from which they try to form part.

In this Online Psychology article we are going to discover the concept and characteristics of disability psychology so that you better understand people who suffer from this condition.

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  1. The different concepts: health and disease
  2. Concept of disability and the evolution of meaning
  3. The person with a disability
  4. Difference between defense and deficit
  5. Denial - self-deception
  6. Extreme emotional reactions
  7. Building the therapeutic bond
  8. Empathy
  9. Support Relationship
  10. False dichotomy mind - body
  11. Emotional regulation
  12. Self-esteem and self-acceptance
  13. Therapeutic process
  14. Therapeutic Leadership
  15. Resilience
  16. Final thoughts

The different concepts: health and disease.

  • Health: state of physical, mental and social well-being, and not only absence of disease (O.M.S). “Situation of relative physical, mental and social well-being -the maximum possible in each historical moment and determined social circumstance-, considering this situation as the product of the transformative interaction between the individual - biopsychosociocultural entity, and its environment - physical-chemical-psychosociocultural and economic-political entity (Enrique Saforcada).
  • Health-disease process: both aspects condition each other, since the same notion of process implies a movement constant in which the existential needs and the development of the potentialities of each subject.
  • Health and sickness They would then be the two poles of this process, and the laws of dialectics can be applied to them: There is no one without the other. One exists within the other. At some point one can transform into the other.
  • The illness it is not only a biochemical problem or an alteration in the biology of the subject, but an experience that moves the human being as a whole. The sick person is not simply a body or a simple living being. He is a person, a being endowed with intelligence and self-concept, with a life project and a responsibility towards his own destiny ”. “The disease is in the man; man makes him sick. The real thing is the person getting sick, living the process of getting sick. Human illness is a human problem ”(G. Acevedo).
  • The state of "Health" it is not obtained once and for all, but is built from the interrelation of "three areas of life": the area of interpersonal relationships, which includes the contribution of the "good enough surrounding environment and the use of the surrounding environment not human". the area of ​​personal psychic reality, called "interior". the area of ​​"cultural experience, which begins with the game and leads to everything that makes up the heritage of man: the arts, the historical myths, the slow progression of philosophical thought, and the mysteries of mathematics, social institutions, and religion".
  • In our culture there has always been a tendency to consider Health as the absence of disease or, from a psychological perspective, as "the absence of psychoneurotic disorder". But we cannot refer the pathological to the mere appearance of conflicts, because it is neither the symptom nor the conflict that define the pathological.
  • In this context, Emiliano Galende defines Mental health as "a state of relative equilibrium and integration of the conflictive elements constituting the subject of culture and groups, with foreseeable and unpredictable, subjectively and objectively recordable, in which individuals or groups actively participate in their own changes and those of their environment Social".

From the Health Paradigm (which departs from the Hegemonic Medical Paradigm): “Health would be a project, disease a fracture and life a process that tends towards a telefinality. In this process, man responds, and in that response he becomes a co-creator. Transform the environment and transform. He is not a mere passive subject of his illness, but he recreates it daily ”(G. Acevedo).

Psychology of disability: concept and characteristics - The different concepts: health and disease

Concept of disability and the evolution of meaning.

The terminology used to refer to people with some type of disability has been changing and evolving throughout history in parallel with the applied intervention technologies and the processes of human interrelation generated socially. We can distinguish, in these last three decades, two great distinctions and intentions to classify disability:

  • International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps (ICIDH), strongly mediated by the hegemonic medical model.
  • International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (CIF).


It was structured on the basis of a medical model, and ended up being reduced to welfare, or to rehabilitation with the individualized treatment format. It was prepared in 1976 by the World Health Organization and published in 1980, becoming a valuable tool for professionals and institutions working with people in need specials.

It functioned as an element of resistance to the typecasting and simplistic “labeling” with which people with disabilities were being operated in a dehumanized way. His greatest contribution was to establish a clear distinction between: deficiencies, disabilities and handicaps (concepts that I will go on to specify later), which allowed to stop substantivize adjective situations: we stopped talking about the “mogolic” or “down”, to go on to refer to “people with down syndrome”, terminology that does not exclude their condition of person. But despite its usefulness, this classification could not reflect the importance of the social environment and was reflected as a causal, unidirectional and reductionist model.

This is how on May 22, 2001, the World Health Assembly unanimously approved the ICF, a classification that was accepted by 191 countries as the new international standard for the description and definition of Health and Disability. It was elaborated based on the principles of psychosocial integration and the conceptions of interactionist development between the individual and her environment. It gave rise to the resignification of disabilities by placing itself in a new paradigm of the dialectic identity - environment. This poses great challenges for social systems, which will necessarily have to be modified based on the inclusion of people with disabilities.

The International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps

Understand by deficiency any permanent or temporary loss or abnormality of a psychological, physiological or anatomical structure or function. It includes the existence or appearance of an abnormality, defect or loss of a limb, organ or body structure, or a defect in a functional system or mechanism of the body. The deficiency is an organic disorder, which produces a functional limitation that is manifested objectively in daily life.

One can speak of physical, sensory, mental or relationship deficiencies. The disability It is, according to this classification, a restriction or absence (due to a deficiency) of the ability to carry out an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for humans. It can be temporary or permanent, reversible or irreversible. The handicap It is the disadvantageous situation in which a certain person finds himself, as a consequence of a deficiency or disability that limits or prevents the fulfillment of a function that is normal for that person, according to age, sex, social factors and the characteristics of their own culture.

At present, and for some time, the "Movement for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities" is redefining the concept of disability. He poses it as a lack of adequacy between the person and his environment, rather than as a direct consequence of that person's deficiency. “Disability arises as a result of a deficiency that exists within society, which is the that creates barriers that impede integration and hinder understanding (October Declaration of 1994). Today the idea that the deficiency of a person produces disability, and the interrelation between it, the individual characteristics of the person and the conditions of the environment may or may not lead to a handicap.

The People with disabilities They are people of integrity with disharmonized bodies and limitations in their physical and / or mental development, who fight for finding his place in the world and improving his quality of life through real experiences and experiences everyday. Disability is not a characteristic of the subject, but the result of his individuality in relation to the demands that the environment places on him.

Both the history of disability from the perspective of the affected people, as the attitudes of society towards them, recognize a long trajectory that goes from the elimination and isolation, through care and institutionalization, until it ends, in contemporary times, in rehabilitation and social integration. Do we label or recognize the disabled as a being with full rights? Do we label to mark negatively or do we acknowledge to discriminate positively?

The simple concept of "labeling" supposes a particular reading with a clear negative value. On the contrary, "recognizing" opens an access door to what has been denied so far, the only possible alternative for a dignified resolution.

The person with a disability.

We must prevent the impairment or disability of residents from becoming a handicap, strengthening their healthy aspects, reinforcing its self-esteem and promoting exchange, creative expressions and the communication, either verbal or non-verbal.

  • Language ability: specific resource, typical of the human species; tool to understand and express emotions, thoughts and intentions; oral response mode; encoding and decoding process of messages and meanings that involves a multiplicity of order skills cognitive, auditory, visual, graph-motor, emotional and social, all supported by an adequate substrate neurological.
  • The language it is organized and elaborated in close interdependence with these skills, and a dysfunction in any of them would imply an alteration in their development. But communication is not restricted exclusively to the area of ​​language, but there are many other resources to communicate, beyond oral expression. The opposite of silence is not speech. In any case, the silence of a person with a disability confronts us with the need to break it, opening new alternative means of communication, and promoting creative actions.
  • The creation it is an inter-subjective process that is consolidated through the staging of spontaneous and shared gestures, which allow the construction on the non-existent. Creativity and the possibility of creating something new are unconscious potentialities inherent in every human being, which develop in interaction with the environment. They are not capacities of geniuses; We are not talking about Mozart, or Picasso, or Borges. Creative and creative potential is not a quality of the minority. The important thing is to go out to meet that creative gesture, which in a potential state awaits someone to shape it.

In the psychological-emotional dimension of the disabled, a relevant aspect is revealed: the presence of challenging behaviors, destructive and self-injurious, often related to their inability to communicate and express their feelings. This particularity represents a significant challenge to the institutions, services and professionals in charge, since it is an element that hinders and hinders the achievement of the objectives that each one proposes reach.

Therapies (of whatever type they may be) of people with disabilities (children or adults), should aim to improve their quality of life, consolidating a significant network provider of containment, friendship and affection, and promoting the acquisition of adaptive skills that facilitate and favor their relationship with the environment and the deployment of their potentialities.

Difference between defense and deficit.

What does deficit mean? For the dictionary, "deficit" is the "lack or scarcity of something that is deemed necessary", that is, there is a lack that leads to unmet needs. If we transfer this to the psychological order we say that a subject is in deficit when he cannot do, think or feel something that he needs or wants, becoming a victim of his anguish and of his own discomfort.


  • Deficit: the deficit subject is distressed because he cannot think, feel or do what he wants or needs.
  • Defending: the subject in a defensive state does not want to think, feel or do anything that could become anguish; avoid facing his anguish by activating defense mechanisms.

Defense mechanisms

  • Defensive mechanisms originate from the need of the subject to face two or more opposing demands that overlap and coexist inside him.
  • They are the result of an internal conflict between the subject's unconscious desire and the restrictions imposed by reality. The word defense refers to an unconscious physical and psychic process at the same time, destined to avoid the detachment of anguish, reducing as much as possible the risks to the integrity of the subject and to his self-assessment.
  • They generally operate through the repression, leading to disfigurements that produce symptoms. The symptom would be an attempt to restore a balance of forces, that is, a compromise between what is desired and what is censored, or a way of attenuating the frustration produced by the impossibility of obtaining what one wants (either due to personal deficit, unexpected external factors or reality that is not finished process).
  • Developmental conflicts and obstacles, narcissistic wounds, traumatic events, and unfavorable family conditions cause the weakening of the ego (increased vulnerability) and the emergence of defensive postures and characteristic repressions, while reactivating the formations symptoms.
  • Repression is one of the most important defensive mechanisms and it is what gives rise to the formations of the unconscious: symptoms, dreams, failed acts. But, in turn, other defense processes operate in the psychic apparatus that are also related. with the repressed material and show the resistance of the subject to face what anguish.
Psychology of disability: concept and characteristics - Difference between defense and deficit

Denial - self-deception.

"Mechanism by which there is a deviation of attention that falls on a painful or unpleasant event, in order to avoid feelings of anguish and unpleasant sensations". "Anesthetic" way of reacting to feelings of discomfort and emotional pain.

Subtle psychological process It is intertwined with the functioning of the central nervous system and the neural machinery. Daniel Goleman wonders: how is it possible that human beings have the ability to react to pain, with a feeling of total insensitivity? The brain can choose how it will perceive pain, and analgesia or sedation against pain, constitutes a property as inherent to this system as is the perception of sensation itself. unpleasant.


  • The anguish that threatens to dominate the individual is cushioned thanks to a diversion or change in attention, which supposes also the elimination of the affective aspects of the experience and the impossibility of the feeling being lived duly.
  • It leads to the avoidance of stress, anguish, anxiety and painful situations in life in which the subject has to face the reality that he has to live.
  • "When the capacity for self-deception is mobilized to protect us from anguish, problems begin: we become victims of points blind and ignore entire areas of information that would be very convenient to know, even when this knowledge causes us some kind of pain" .
  • It can be considered as a useful tool for psychic self-preservation and survival, since at times, it is benign and even necessary. However, it's not always like that. Distorted attention can distort the experience and inhibit action, becoming a highly dangerous factor.
  • "People who chronically avoid or deny their feelings no longer automatically attend to the referents of their experience, no symbolize emotions in consciousness, they are not capable of creating new meanings - senses, nor of promoting actions relevant to their wellness" .

Extreme emotional reactions.

Chronic maladaptive responses caused by the sudden and massive intrusion of anxiety and evidenced by through the appearance of involuntary thoughts and uncontrolled feelings, difficult to elaborate or symbolize.

Mardi Horowitz drew up a list in the various forms, explicit or masked, that the excessive intrusion of anxiety and feelings of discomfort in the psychic apparatus takes:

  • Sudden appearance of excessive emotions: waves of feelings that appear strongly, and then disappear, without becoming a permanent state of mind.
  • Concern and rumination: continuous, recurrent and uncontrollable awareness of the stressful event, which exceeds the limits of normal analysis of a problem and reflection on it.
  • Sudden invasive thoughts: arise unjustifiably; they have nothing to do with the task that the person is doing at the time.
  • Persistent feelings and ideas: They are inordinate, and once triggered, they are impossible to stop.
  • Hypervigilance: excessive alert that generates a permanent state of tension.
  • Insomnia: inability to fall asleep due to the appearance of invasive and totally disturbing ideas and images.
  • Nightmares: disturbed sleep and waking up feeling distressed or anxious. The content of the nightmare does not always have a direct relationship with the real life events.
  • Overwhelming sensations that burst into consciousness: they are extraordinarily intense and are not suited to the current situation.
  • Reactions startle or outburst: they are responses to stimuli that generally do not justify such a reaction.

* As the list shows, anxiety can erupt in many ways, considerably deteriorating the person's mood-emotional state and general performance. In these cases, it is necessary to activate the emotional regulation process, which we will talk about later.

Psychology of disability: concept and characteristics - Extreme emotional reactions

Construction of the therapeutic bond.

  • The professional link - resident It should be based on interaction and complementarity, with an emphasis on good communication between the parties and the inclusion of the emotional.
  • The empathy It is a learned skill, which is only put into practice by studious therapists who look to their models theoretical intelligent explanatory systems, which increase their capacity to capture what happens to their consultant. In other words, empathy appears only in those therapeutic relationships that aim to raise the level of understanding of the problem to be treated.
  • "Empathy means agreement or approximations to agreement around qualities of experiences, intensities, rhythms, modes of loading and unloading, communication and reservations at the communication" .


It is the ability to imagine yourself in the place of the other, leading to a deep and complete understanding of your feelings, desires, ideas and actions.

It should not be understood simply as the capture of the mental and emotional state of the other person, but as the complex result of a series of communication skills to investigate and decode the subjective reality of the other.

It does not imply an affectionate or sympathetic attitude from the therapist, but an open and active attitude, oriented towards detect the facilitating conditions that configure empathy for each link, responding appropriately to they.

It supposes a containing modality, but not invasive, since it must include the possibility that the patient "models" the analyst, according to her needs.

Goals of empathic listening

  • Consolidate a solid bond, based on trust and mutual respect.
  • Encourage interaction, complementarity and good communication.
  • Obtain accurate information about the client's emotional reality.
  • Achieve an approach to the possible variables that intervene in the problem.
  • Facilitate future negotiations.

Support Relationship.

The therapeutic bond is only possible from the construction of a relationship of trust, support, understanding and dialogue, in which the professional will have the function of helping the consultant to discover for himself the path of the wellness.

Characteristics of the supportive relationship

  • Authenticity: transparency. The more authentic and transparent the link, the more favorable the results.
  • Acceptance: respect for the other as a whole and different being, with their own desires, feelings and actions, even when they are opposed to ours. The greater the acceptance and liking, the more useful the relationship will be.
  • Empathy: full understanding of the client's feelings and thoughts; deep perception of their personal meanings, without judging or analyzing them.


  • That the consultant achieve: Change their self-perception and self-concept.
  • Improve your self esteem.
  • Acquire greater ability to make your own decisions.
  • Have more confidence in yourself.
  • Face their experiences with more confidence, living them with intensity and without fear.
  • Better accept their attitudes towards others, interacting more satisfactorily with them.
  • Better tolerate the frustration generated by difficulties or obstacles that are difficult to resolve.
  • Decrease defensive and / or reactive responses.
  • Improve your ability to face new situations with original and creative attitudes.
  • Achieve a better adaptation to the environment and the reality in which they live.

How can I create a supportive relationship?

The consultant must perceive us as coherent, safe and trustworthy people. When an unconditional outward attitude is accompanied by feelings of boredom, skepticism, or rejection, it ends up being perceived as inconsistent and unreliable. Without realizing it, my communication becomes contradictory: my words convey a message, while the rest of my being communicates the annoyance I feel.

  • We must be expressive and transparent enough to show ourselves as we are, without ambiguities or contradictions.
  • It is not necessary to “blindly” put distance between ourselves and the client, taking a distant and impersonal professional attitude. Feeling and relating openly to the other as a person, towards whom we experience positive feelings, is not detrimental to the relationship.
  • We must be strong enough to accept and respect the client, without merging with him or feeling absorbed by dependence on him.
  • We must admit the individuality of the other, allowing him to "be what he is": honest or false, childish or adult, desperate or full of confidence.
  • It is necessary that our actions and attitudes are not felt by the consultant as a danger. We must try to free him from everything that he perceives as an external threat, so that he can begin to experience, dealing with his inner feelings and conflicts.
  • The feeling of evaluation is also an external threat. Value judgments do not stimulate personal development. Positive reviews can be just as threatening as negative ones. The more free of judgment and evaluation the relationship can be maintained, the easier it will be for the client to understand that the center of responsibility resides in himself.
  • It is important to consider the consultant as an active being, capable of immanent creative development. “Confirming the other means accepting his full potentiality. I confirm it in myself and in him, in relation to his potential, that now he can develop and evolve ”(Martín Buber).

To keep in mind:

“The optimal support relationship can only be created by a psychologically mature individual. My ability to create relationships that facilitate the development of others as independent people is a function of the development achieved by myself ”.

Psychology of disability: concept and characteristics - Supportive Relationship

False mind-body dichotomy.

The Cartesian formulation "I think, therefore I am" and the notion of disembodied mind, which thinks, reasons and makes moral judgments in a totally independent way of the body, make obstacle to the true essence of the human being, conceiving it as a fragmented and divided organism, instead of an integral being, biologically complex but fragile and unique to the time.

"We are and then we think, and we think only to the extent that we are, because the structures and operations of being cause thought."

Emotion and reason are constantly interrelated with each other. Uncontrolled emotions can generate irrational behavior, exerting a powerful (and even disturbing) influence on rationality. At the same time, certain types of reasoning or judgments that we ourselves construct in our interaction with the social environment and cultural, can affect our emotional state and our way of feeling in different ways, leading to diseases psychological. Body and soul cannot be thought of as separate entities; the soul lives thanks to the body and the body, "takes body" in the existence of the soul.


  • They are the result of the "combination of a process of mental evaluation, simple or complex, with responses to this process, resulting in a bodily emotional state and mental changes additional ”.
  • They produce a series of changes in the body state connected to mental images that activate specific systems of the brain (amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex and hypothalamus).
  • They are neither good nor bad in themselves.
  • They can be adaptive or maladaptive, functional or dysfunctional.
  • They become conscious and become feelings, when the subject attends to the sensation perceived bodily, symbolizing it in "realizing". When this symbolization is appropriate and the reactions of the subject in front of it are adapted to the emotional experience lived, it means that the emotions can function as one guide for adaptive action, contributing to the decision-making and conflict resolution process, and to learning how a self can be alleviated fragile.


  • They suppose an "awareness" of the sensations that emotions transmit to the body, which consolidates a bodily felt experience.
  • They lead us to experience sensorially and to organize ourselves to carry out concrete actions; but we must not confuse them with action. One thing is what we feel (internal subjective experience) and quite another what we do compared to what we feel (behavior).
  • The essence of feeling an emotion is related to the registration of the changes that take place in the body, and with the impact that these changes have on cognitive processes, motivations and actions themselves said.
  • Adaptive emotions.
  • They are those that provide us with information and teach us to protect ourselves from everything that can hurt or harm us.
  • They allow the deployment of an adaptive action, aimed at avoiding unpleasant or painful situations in the future, which gives rise to a trend of action that points towards goals organized according to concrete ends, and towards a higher level of adaptation.

Maladaptive emotions

  • They are totally dysfunctional and involve the construction of maladaptive emotional schemes that, when being evoked, lead to inappropriate or excessive responses that become the mode of reaction habitual.
  • "These are maladaptive responses of a complex dysfunctional or extremely stressed system, in which a variety of biological, biochemical, affective, cognitive and behavioral factors, to automatically produce an inappropriate response "
  • We find them in what Greenberg called "feelings of unease," which include side reactions of helplessness, hopelessness, fear, shame, anger, despair, and anxiety. In certain circumstances, these behaviors can become defensive or self-destructive. For example, when anger hides the grief, when the avoidance of psychic pain becomes chronic, or the denial of the feeling of insecurity and hopelessness is prolonged over time.

Emotional regulation.

According to Greenberg and Paivio, this process consists of two stages:

First stage

The cycle of "self-organization" begins: a process by which the affective and neurochemical mechanisms basic, physiological activation, and expressive-motor processes are integrated into a pattern coherent. "Over time, this pattern of experience is experienced as a feeling and, finally, it is symbolized in awareness, giving rise to a secondary emotion (such as sadness or anger)."

Second stage

The capacity for self-reflection and cognitive processes collaborate with the self-organization process, in order to achieve an adequate balance between experience and its expression, thus accessing affective regulations more and more adaptive.

In the two phases of the emotional regulation process, neurobiological and psychosocial factors are interrelated; both perform relevant functions in the development of being, and the malfunction of either of them can produce failures in the synthesis of emotional and cognitive - motivational responses, causing some type of deficit emotional.

This process of emotion regulation can be dysfunctional in terms of both under-control and over-control of emotional experience and expression. "On the one hand, excessive control and suppression of emotion are dysfunctional, both rob people of their ability to be able to orient themselves quickly in the environment around them, which produces internal stress. On the other hand, lack of control and inability to regulate emotion can result in severe relationship disorder. often causing damage to interpersonal relationships or hurting others, which also produces internal stress dragged on. The balanced ability, both to have emotions and to regulate them in contextually appropriate ways, is what constitutes the ultimate criterion of health. "

Emotional Intelligence: definitions

  • "It allows knowing and managing one's own emotions, motivating oneself, recognizing emotions in others and managing relationships."
  • "It is the set of capacities, competencies and non-cognitive abilities that influence the ability own to succeed in meeting the demands and pressures of the environment "Bar - On (quoted in Mayer, 2001)
  • “It refers to the ability to recognize the meaning of emotions and their relationships, and to reason and solve problems based on it. It also involves the ability to use emotions to perform cognitive activities ”Mayer et al. (2001).
  • Emotional intelligence: characteristics.
  • It is accessed through an adequate mind-heart integration, which enables a synthesis of the emotional sphere with the cognitive-motivational dimension.
  • It involves the acceptance of our emotions, the exploration of them, and the ability to modify those tacit emotional patterns that for some reason have to be modified.
  • "... involves acknowledging our feelings and being self-aware. This also means capturing our emotions as they emerge, and being able to manage them in order to achieve our goals. Being aware of emotions helps each of us manage our feelings in ways that do not overwhelm us. It helps us take care of ourselves and control our anxiety, anger and sadness. "
  • "By developing the ability to become aware of emotions, their acceptance and symbolization, of speaking and reflecting on them, as well as of access and development of other parts of the self that are more compassionate and capable of facing situations, the most problematic and vulnerable parts of the self are regulated and alleviated - same" .

Self-esteem and self-acceptance.

It is the capacity that each human being has to value, accept and respect yourself, recognizing their needs and potentialities. It is a key component of self-concept, that is, of the set of attitudes and beliefs about oneself, including beliefs about weaknesses, virtues and personality traits that distinguish it from the rest of the people. The way each person acts, thinks, and feels is a reflection of the extent to which they accept, respect, and trust themselves.

  • The people with high self-esteem they preserve themselves from what harms them, they recognize and satisfy their needs in a positive way, they defend their rights, etc. By respecting themselves they also respect others, further developing their capacity to love.
  • The Ppeople with low self-esteem They are not valued or respected, they tend to ignore their needs and are always placed below the rest of the people, considering themselves inferior. Some put the wants and needs of others before their own; others withdraw from the world, believing that they have nothing to offer. In general, they feel hopeless, and have great difficulty giving and receiving affection, which fills them with anger and resentment, causing them to take on risky behaviors.

Self-acceptance is also a key part of self-concept, and it is directly related to self-esteem. It is the ability to recognize as one's own both the defects and the virtues that each one has. Completely self-acceptance implies not hiding or ignoring the existence of our negative or dark parts, but also not tending to exaggerate them, also pondering our good aspects. This acceptance allows us to minimize our defects and develop our positive qualities or virtues.

Therapeutic process.

“Transit from insolvency to emotional, instrumental and social training, supported by the construction of a self-criticism that allow the subject to stop compulsively and defensively escaping from the problems that arise, facing them decisively. Said passage makes it possible to increase the emotional solvency of the consultant, allowing him to have a leading role in his life ”.

Cure means:

  • Transform the way of facing the daily life of the consultant: their way of living, their way of getting sick and feeling suffering.
  • Re-constructing the meaning of his life, leading him to assume an active role.
  • Produce significant changes in the way of interpreting reality and resolving conflicts.
  • Generate alternative actions that produce well-being.

Therapeutic Leadership.

"There is nothing more difficult to undertake, nor more dangerous to lead, nor more uncertain in terms of success, than assuming leadership in introducing a new order of things" (Machiavelli).

The professional, in his role as leader, must act as a regulator and agent of change, capable of:

  • stimulate, motivate and internally strengthen residents.
  • promote the performance of activities that favor interaction and allow them to develop autonomy.
  • make an alliance with residents and generate consensus among them.
  • facilitate the control of emotions, through strategies of containment and creation that aim at the discharge of anxiety, anguish, anger, fear, etc. Example: graphic expression, games, stories, puppets, body language, etc.
  • find valid alternatives in the face of conflicts, ill-being and frustrating situations that may arise.


“Universal human capacity to face, overcome, and even be strengthened or transformed by experiences of adversity. It is the expression of the fluidity of the psychic apparatus, as opposed to crystallization, and enables the development of tertiary processes understood as creative processes ”.

"Dynamic process that results in positive adaptation in contexts of great adversity" (Luthar and others).

"Ability to emerge from adversity, adapt, recover and access a meaningful and productive life" (ICCB, 1994).

Factors influencing resilience:

  • what the subject perceives as support: I have.
  • what gives him identity and intrapsychic strength: I am; I am.
  • As for your interpersonal and conflict resolution skills: I can.

Essential components of resilience

  • the notion of adversity, trauma, risk or threat to human development. Example: living in poverty; death of a loved one.
  • positive adaptation or overcoming adversity, which is what makes it possible to determine whether or not there has been a process of resilience. Adaptation is considered positive, when the individual reaches social expectations according to the stage of development in which he is, without giving rise to imbalances. If positive adaptation occurs despite exposure to adversity, it is considered resilient adaptation.
  • the notion of process, which supposes the dynamic interaction between risk factors and factors resilient of all kinds: biochemical, emotional, cognitive, biographical, socio-economic and socio-cultural.

Characteristics of the resilient subject

  • social skill
  • low susceptibility
  • effective confrontation
  • capacity for interaction and adaptation
  • resistance to destruction
  • positive life behaviors
  • special temperament
  • cognitive ability

Final thoughts.

  • Every human being is a complex organization formed by a network of biological, psychological and social factors. Man is characterized by being an open system in permanent interaction with the environment, and its existence and structure depend on the outside world. It is a self-regulating and self-creating system, open to the construction of knowledge and to successive learning processes.
  • The subject, with his abilities and difficulties, build the world, establish emotional ties, and thus consolidates its subjectivity. This also occurs in the case of people with disabilities, and in order to rescue this special subject, we must modify our way of thinking about it and approach it, which supposes a paradigm shift: we must not emphasize their altered functions, but rescue their aspects, privileging their capacities, potentialities and particularities.
  • From this position we will be able to approach the problem of the person with Disability, understand them better and develop open and constantly changing intervention strategies. Our objective will be to promote their integral development from an adequate development process - learning, and the stimulation of healthy areas, since these can compensate for the alterations of the areas affected.
  • The theoretical tools On which I delved in this article, they are essential for the therapeutic approach of all kinds of problems, whether or not they are related to disability. Perhaps what makes the difference is that in the treatment of people with disabilities, therapists we have to de-structure, sensitize and develop creativity, to a greater degree than we are accustomed. We cannot lose sight of the fact that the person with a disability in front of us is a person “very special ”, which not only has special needs but also special abilities, which have to be developed.

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