But how does psychotherapy achieve these changes?

But how does psychotherapy achieve these changes?

But how does psychotherapy achieve these changes? 150 150 Nyagu

Discussion: Does Psychotherapy Have a Biological Basis?
Discussion: Does Psychotherapy Have a Biological Basis?
Many studies have found that psychotherapy is as effective as psychopharmacology in terms of influencing changes in behaviors, symptoms of anxiety, and changes in mental state. Changes influenced by psychopharmacology can be explained by the biological basis of treatments. But how does psychotherapy achieve these changes? Does psychotherapy share common neuronal pathways with psychopharmacology? For this Discussion, consider whether psychotherapy also has a biological basis. Discussion: Does Psychotherapy Have a Biological Basis?.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
Evaluate biological basis of psychotherapy treatments
Analyze influences of culture, religion, and socioeconomics on personal perspectives of psychotherapy treatments
To prepare:

Review this week’s Learning Resources.
Reflect on foundational concepts of psychotherapy. Discussion: Does Psychotherapy Have a Biological Basis?
Note: For this Discussion, you are required to complete your initial post before you will be able to view and respond to your colleagues’ postings. Begin by clicking on the “Post to Discussion Question” link and then select “Create Thread” to complete your initial post. Remember, once you click Submit, you cannot delete or edit your own posts, and cannot post anonymously. Please check your post carefully before clicking Submit!

By Day 3
Post an explanation of whether psychotherapy has a biological basis. Explain how culture, religion, and socioeconomics might influence one’s perspective of the value of psychotherapy treatments. Support your rationale with evidence-based literature.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ responses.

By Day 6
Respond to at least two of your colleagues by providing an additional scholarly resource that supports or challenges their position along with a brief explanation of the resource.

Submission and Grading Information
Grading Criteria
To access your rubric:

Week 1 Discussion Rubric

Post by Day 3 and Respond by Day 6

Discussion: Does Psychotherapy Have a Biological Basis?
Biological Basis of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy has a biological basis. This is because psychotherapy deals with the brain according to the brain’s development, maturation as well as how the brain operates. According to Tyron (2016), psychotherapy follows ideologies of evolutionary adaptation and therefore targets the brain’s problematical adaptations and repairs them in the same way the problems developed. This means that psychotherapy disengages and repairs the maladaptive brain adaptations and substitutes them with new and positive pathways (Lebowitz & Ahn, 2014).

Basically, the brain is biological and it maps experiences and memories using neurons within the brain. As people adapt to the environment, the brain records the emotional experiences using the cortical memory. These experiences can be positive or negative ones. The negative experiences have defective mappings that produce psychiatric symptoms and therefore psychotherapy disengages such defective mappings and replaces them with maladaptive new mappings within the brain (Lebowitz & Ahn, 2014) Discussion: Does Psychotherapy Have a Biological Basis?.

Evidence from brain imaging studies indicates that psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) generate biological changes within the brain. For example, a study conducted using a brain-scanning technique known as positron emission tomography (PET) showed that treatment of patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) using CBT reduced the rate of glucose metabolism levels and therefore improved the OCD symptoms. Such a study indicates that a psychotherapy treatment like the CBT is a biological treatment just like pharmacological treatments since CBT effects objective and measurable changes within the brain and does not have any side effects (Tyron, 2016) Discussion: Does Psychotherapy Have a Biological Basis?.

Similarly, Amano & Toichi (2016) conducted a study using a psychotherapy technique known as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The oxygenated Hb concentration which is used to indicate activation of the brain was measured after the psychotherapy treatment was done for the patients with PTSD. The findings indicated that the EMDR psychotherapy technique resulted in changes within the superior temporal sulcus (STS) as well as the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) indicating a vital neural mechanism of the EMDR psychotherapy treatment. Discussion: Does Psychotherapy Have a Biological Basis? These results further indicate psychotherapy treatments involve brain areas associated with memory and emotions, for instance, the amygdala (Amano & Toichi, 2016).

Culture, Religion, and Socioeconomics Impact on an Individual’s Perspective of the Value of Psychotherapy Treatments

Cultural beliefs may influence people’s perspective regarding the significance of psychotherapy treatments. Cultural beliefs influence the perception of psychotherapy as well as care seeking behavior (Wegner & Rhoda, 2015). For example, in some cultures, seeking psychotherapy treatment for mental health illnesses are associated with stigmatization and shame and hence this may hinder people from seeking psychotherapy treatments. Cultural misconceptions regarding psychotherapy also influence people’s perspective on psychotherapy where for example an individual may believe that mental illness is a curse and a punishment and hence can only be healed through divine interventions and not treatments such as psychotherapy (Wegner & Rhoda, 2015).

On the other hand, religious beliefs may influence an individual to seek divine healing and prayers to cure mental health problems rather than seeking psychotherapy treatments Discussion: Does Psychotherapy Have a Biological Basis?. For instance, Christians, Muslims, and Hindus believe that God through his miraculous ways can heal and therefore may tend to use religion as a coping mechanism to deal with trauma and sadness that comes with mental health issues (Goncalves et al, 2015).

Lastly, socio-economic status plays a significant role regarding people’s perspective on psychotherapy. Evidence indicates that a majority of people from low socio-economic status have a low tendency of seeking psychotherapy treatments when compared to individuals from higher socio-economic status. This can be associated with the cost of issues or a lack of knowledge regarding the importance and efficacy of the psychotherapy treatments (Sripada et al, 2015). Discussion: Does Psychotherapy Have a Biological Basis?.


Amano T & Toichi M. (2016). Possible neural mechanisms of psychotherapy for trauma-related symptoms: cerebral responses to the neuropsychological treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder model individuals. Scientific Reports. 6(34610.

Daniels C & Marilyn F. (2014). Integrating Spirituality into Counselling and Psychotherapy: Theoretical and Clinical Perspectives. Canadian Journal of Counseling and Psychotherapy. 47(3), 315–341.

Goncalves J, Luchetti G, Menezes P & Vallada H. (2015). Religious and spiritual interventions in mental health care: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. Psychol Med. 45(14): 2937–2949. Discussion: Does Psychotherapy Have a Biological Basis?.

Lebowitz M & Ahn W. (2014). Effects of biological explanations for mental disorders on clinicians’ empathy. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 111(50), 17786–17790.

Sripada R, Richards S, Sheila R, Walters H, Bohnert K, Gorman L, Kees M & Blow A. (2015). Socioeconomic Status and Mental Health Service Use Among National Guard Soldiers. Psychiatric Services. 1(66), 992-995;

Tyron W. (2016). Psychotherapy Integration via Theoretical Unification. International Journal of Integrative Psychotherapy. 7(1),1-26.

Wegner, L. & Rhoda, A. (2015). The influence of cultural beliefs on the utilization of rehabilitation services in a rural South African context: Therapists’ perspective. African Journal of Disability. 4(1), 128-136 Discussion: Does Psychotherapy Have a Biological B