The conceptualization of disability as an attribute located solely within an individual is changing to a paradigm in which disability is thought to be an interaction among the individual, the disability, and the environment. This chapter draws both theoretical and practice implications, which may assist practitioners and educators in gaining a clearer understanding of counseling clients who have disabilities, from four broad models of disability. Intended as a broad overview of the major models and an introductory discussion of ways in which these models can affect the profession of counseling, the chapter presents several different ways of conceptualizing the experience of disability. The four broad models are: (a) the biomedical model, (b) the functional model, (c) the environmental model, and (d) the sociopolitical model. The functional model and the environmental model are presented together because both are interactive models; stated differently.
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The root causes of social injustice are in part centralized around wealth inequities, politicians, and legislation favoring the wealthy, discrimination, and a Darwinian mentality. This chapter explores the ramifications of social injustice in America focusing on those with disabilities. It discusses the ripple effect of poverty, oppression, and disability, and its subsequent deleterious impact for equitable treatment and opportunity. Beginning with prevalence statistics regarding poverty in general and disability specifically, the chapter segues into an exploration of the domino and vicious cycle effect of inequitable education, employment, health care, and health. The resulting psychosocial impact on minorities and those with disabilities is a reciprocal occurrence between these populations interfacing with an arguably apathetic societal and political populace. Finally, the chapter discusses a dialogue regarding the social justice counselor and strategies for counseling and advocating for this most ignored and disenfranchised population in America.