Psychotherapy A Biological Basis

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Psychotherapy has a biological basis in terms of the influence it has on our brains. Psychotherapy is individualized to the specific person it is treating but yet it has an effect on the receptors, neurotransmitters, modulators and other complex brain responses, producing new learning experiences that involve cognitive, emotional and physical processes (Javanbakht & Alberini, 2019). The goal of successful therapy is to create long lasting physical changes to the brain. A study done by Stoiek et al. has shown that behavioral therapies in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), impact the neural circuits related to PTSD due to prolonged exposure (Javanbakht & Alberini, 2019). Culture, religion, and socioeconomic status each have an influence on the perspective of the value of psychotherapy treatments. Unfortunately, not only does the patient have an influence on the perspective of what psychotherapy has to offer but there is also a big influence on the clinician’s perspective as well. Studies have shown that although clinicians are professionally trained to perform psychotherapy, they somehow lack the cross-cultural competency which is very important in identifying how skilled a clinician is in managing cultural issues that might arise during therapy as well as the way the patient feels the clinician is able to handle such situations in a therapeutic setting (Asnaani, & Hofmann, 2012). However, due to the multicultural societies that exist in our communities, it is rather impossible for clinicians to be experienced in treating diverse patients, although many clinicians are more aware of the distinctions in diverse cultural considerations and are treating each unique case individually. Going the extra mile for the patient will lead to a strong patient-therapist relationship, which will greatly benefit the patient regardless of culture, religion or socioeconomic status. The more attention cultural diversity receives from psychotherapists, the greater the awareness of different cultural identities will become, leading to a better understanding of a patient’s psychology, cognition, behaviors and emotions (Dadlani & Scherer, 2009). Developing cultural competence is a great tool for clinicians to have even if the patient does not appear to have any presenting problems because when these problems do arise it will be easier for the clinician to recognize. Religion can also play an important role in the patient’s decision of choosing to seek treatment especially if it is a great aspect of their cultural identity (Asnaani, & Hofmann, 2012). Socioeconomic status and cultural views towards seeking help might be different when taking into consideration family structure, past life experiences, as well as the actual therapist as a person (Asnaani, & Hofmann, 2012). Furthermore, familiarizing ourselves with cultural diversity as well as developing cultural competence is a great tool for any therapist to acquire as it can lead to greater skills and abilities that can further help patients down the line.


Asnaani, A., & Hofmann, S. G. (2012). Collaboration in Multicultural Therapy: Establishing a

Strong Therapeutic Alliance Across Cultural Lines. Journal of Clinical Psychology68(2), 187–197. doi:10.1002/jclp.21829

Dadlani, M., & Scherer, D. (2009). Culture in Psychotherapy Practice and Research: Awareness,

Knowledge, and Skills. Retrieved from:

Javanbakht, A., & Alberini, C. M. (2019). Editorial: Neurobiological Models of

Psychotherapy. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience13, 144. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2019.00144