Upon analysis of the diagnostic model in psychology, it becomes evident that the notion of labelling client problems as a 'disorder', increases the likelihood of neglecting a large number of human experiences and the dynamic relationship humans have with their social and cultural environments (Boyle, 2007). The current diagnostic tool used is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM); an organised system for conceptualising and defining clinical conditions (DSM-IV-TR, 2000). Despite challenging the biological and universal assumptions of disorders in the DSM, this paper is not entirely suggesting this is incorrect, rather emphasises the need to be comprehensive in diagnosis. It may be unreasonable to suggest discarding the DSM completely, however, ethical considerations need to be taken into account in how to use the manual effectively to ensure client's health and well-being is not put at risk of harm (APS, 2007). .
A diagnosis creates theoretical and practical divisions between what is considered normal and abnormal behaviour in society. When a patient presents to a physician, they are told whether something is or is not wrong, and treatment is given accordingly. Similarly, mental health diagnosis is categorical, and clusters of symptoms assumes an underlying biological and medical disease that requires treatment (Duncan, Miller & Sparks, 2007). .
It may be argued that the DSM acts as a double-edged sword, presenting implications for ethical psychological practice. On one hand, DSM diagnoses improves communication by which members of a professional team share a common language for conditions as well as facilitate formulation of meaningful treatment plans by identifying specific symptoms to address (Corey, Corey & Callanan, 2011). Moreover, psychologists have duty of care and ethical obligations to conduct risk assessments for harm to self or others (APS, 2007) whereby diagnoses may alert for possible dangers (Corey, et al.