Psychotherapy is an effective treatment to aide those with mental health illnesses. It is a beneficial approach for the management of mental health care. It is considered to treat the psychological, behavioral, and somatic issues rather than the means of medical (Gaab et al, 2019). Psychotherapy may be used alone or along with medication management. Psychopharmacology is explained by its biological basis of treatments when aiding a patient’s mental illness. But how does psychotherapy promote change within a patient?
Psychotherapy can be introduced to a patient in many forms. The most common form of psychotherapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT has been proven to work with several different diagnoses including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance use, etc. Psychotherapy, along with CBT, is found to improve the functioning and quality of life in patients. Psychotherapy works in a way to attempt to change the thinking and behavioral patterns a patient experience (APA, 2017).
Throughout my research on this topic, I have found that not very many studies have been conducted on brain changes following psychotherapy, or maybe less studies that I thought should have occurred on this topic. However, the very first study was conducted in 1992 and the research was focused on comparing fluoxetine treatment and behavior therapy. This study’s findings suggested that the brain had similar changes with the two types of treatment, especially in the caudate nucleus (Karlsson, 2015).
Many cultural, religious, and socioeconomic factors have the capacity of altering psychotherapy treatment outcomes. Several reasons for this can include lack of awareness of mental illness, lack of family support, religious beliefs, financial difficulty, community beliefs, lack of insight, ect (Reddy et al, 2015).
I do believe that psychotherapy has a biological basis within an individual. Psychotherapy is driven to change the way a person thinks or behaves, which comes from mechanisms within the brain. Coping skills are utilized to modify a person’s thoughts and behaviors. Psychotherapy is considered to have long lasting effects in one’s life to prevent relapse of symptoms. Some may even consider that the effects of psychotherapy last longer than medication management (Ayache & Chalah, 2018).
APA (2017). What is cognitive behavioral therapy? American Psychological Association. Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral
Ayache, S. & Chalah, M. (2018). Disentangling the neural basis of cognitive behavioral therapy in psychiatric disorders: A focus on depression. Brain Sciences 8(8). Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6120051/
Gaab, J., Locher, C., & Meier, S. (2019). Psychotherapy: A world of meanings. Frontiers in Psychology 10(460). Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6448000/
Karlsson, H. (2015). How psychotherapy changes the brain. Psychiatric Times 28 (8). Retrieved from: https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/psychotherapy/how-psychotherapy-changes-brain
Reddy, S. K., Thirthalli, J., Channaveerachari, N. K., Reddy, K. N., Ramareddy, R. N., Rawat, V. S., Narayana, M., Ramkrishna, J., & Gangadhar, B. N. (2015). Factors influencing access to psychiatric treatment in persons with schizophrenia: A qualitative study in a rural community. Indian journal of psychiatry, 56(1), 54–60. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5545.124714