Does Psychotherapy Have a Biological Basis?

NRNP 6640 week 1 Discussion: Does Psychotherapy Have a Biological Basis?
Does Psychotherapy Have a Biological Basis?

Connections are everywhere, some easily found, some easily manipulated to connect, and some are biologically connected in nature. Saul Mcleod, psychology teaching at The University of Manchester, suggests that human behavior is directly related to the interaction of biology and the environment (McLeod, 2015). For instance, in studying twins, would their similar genes make them become attached to each other or would their environment? I would conclude that both biology and the environment. In a study on an attachment-theoretical perspective involving twins and siblings, the finding showed that more often, twins saw one another as an attachment figure while non twins saw a parent as an attachment figure (Tancredy & Fraley, 2006).

How Does Culture Influence One’s Perspective of the Value of Psychotherapy Treatments?

Becoming aware of a client’s culture can help a psychotherapist tailor their treatment for said individual. Western psychology has historically highlighted individualism, self- actualization, and self-development (Aristova, 2016). However, in some African cultures, psychotherapy highlights balance, interconnectedness, and awareness of one’s culture (Hollingsworth & Phillips, 2017).

How Does Religion Influence One’s Perspective of the Value of Psychotherapy Treatments?

        Religion can greatly influence a client’s view of psychotherapy positively or negatively.  There are a lot of variables in the role religion or spirituality plays in a client’s therapy or lack thereof.  One variable is the client’s religious leader’s view of mental health.  In a survey conducted with, specifically Protestant pastors, a rather large number of participants connected symptoms of depression to a deficient trust in a higher power (Ayvaci, 2017).  A religious leader’s perceptions of mental health can lead to a resistance of mental health professional referrals.

How Does Socioeconomics Influence One’s Perspective of the Value of Psychotherapy Treatments?

        There are several factors related to how one’s socioeconomic status (SES) can affect their perspective of psychotherapy. A low SES is shown to have higher dropouts of psychotherapy, indicating the lack of perceived importance in it.  Also, a low SES client tends to not commit to psychotherapy, possible due to maladaptive and pro-self-behavior (Levi, Laslo-Roth, & Rosenstreich, 2018). 

Thank you,



Aristova, N. (2016). Rethinking cultural identities in the context of globalization. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 236, 153-160.

Ayvaci, E. R. (2017, April 19). Religious barriers to mental healthcare. American Journal of Psychiatry Residents’ Journal, 11(7), 11-13.

Hollingsworth, L. D., & Phillips, F. B. (2017, December 15). Afrocentricity and social work education. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 27(1-2), 48-60.

Levi, U., Laslo-Roth, R., & Rosenstreich, E. (2018). Socioeconomic Status and Psychotherapy: A Cognitive-Affective View. Retrieved from

McLeod, S. (2015, n.d.). Biological Approach. Retrieved from

Tancredy, C. M., & Fraley, C. R. (2006). The nature of adult twin relationships: An attachment-theoretical perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78-93.

sample response

I enjoyed reading your post, and you provided much information that supports your stance that psychotherapy is biologically based. I agree that psychotherapy is biologically based as well. Psychotherapy is a collaborative treatment that is based on the relationship that is formed between an individual and a psychologist (APA, (n.d.)). The therapist creates a safe environment where their client can speak openly with no fear of being judged. As such, psychotherapy can bring about persistent changes in attitudes, habits, conscious and unconscious behavior, and it does so by producing alterations in gene expression which produce structural changes in the brain (Jiménez et al., 2018). These changes are biologically based, and as a result, I conclude that psychotherapy does indeed have a biological basis.

Furthermore, culture plays a significant role when treating a patient. A plan must be developed that takes into consideration the upbringing and beliefs that the client has experienced. Whether it be religion, socioeconomics, language barriers, we must realize that many factors can influence the behavior of a client and be prepared to adjust to meet their needs.


American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Jiménez, J. P., Botto, A., Herrera, L., Leighton, C., Rossi, J. L., Quevedo, Y., Silva, J. R.,

Martínez, F., Assar, R., Salazar, L. A., Ortiz, M., Ríos, U., Barros, P., Jaramillo, K., & Luyten, P. (2018). Psychotherapy and Genetic Neuroscience: An Emerging Dialog. Frontiers in genetics, 9, 257.

Psychotherapy which is sometimes called talk therapy is different treatment techniques used to help a person identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors (Psychotherapies, 2020). Psychotherapy may be used alone or together with medications to address specific issues such as trauma, loss of loved one, depression, anxiety and difficulties coping with daily life.

Psychotherapy is a complete biological treatment. It does not only target one receptor, one neurotransmitters, or single modulators, it involves all the biological regulations underlying complex brain responses (Javanbakht & Alberini, 2019). It affect changes in the frontal and temporal cortex, which are parts of the brain that control thoughts and memories (Javanbakht & Alberini, 2019). Psychotherapy has a biological basis considering the fact that it alters brain responses in patients which affects their behaviors.

How culture, religion, and socioeconomics might influence one’s perspective of the value of psychotherapy treatments.

Culture is people’s beliefs and values. It influences how we see ourselves and how we engage with others. Culture affects how we understand health and healing (Moleiro, 2018). Based on culture, some people may visit medical doctor when they are sick, while some may choose other treatment options such as prayer, homeopathic remedies, fasting, etc. Cultural beliefs may influence people’s perspective regarding the significance of psychotherapy treatments. Some cultures forbid discussing their problem with an outsider. Therefore, it is important for therapist to acknowledge the role of culture in psychotherapy and incorporate cultural sensitivity into their work to accommodate and respect differences in opinions, values, and attitudes of various cultures and different people (Moleiro, 2018).

Religion and spirituality are important sources of strength for many patients. However, working with patients who are guided by their faith can be challenging especially when the therapist does not support the same beliefs as the patient. Some patients who hold strong to their religious beliefs are more open to therapy when they are referred by their pastor or other religious leader. The therapist must focus on respecting the patient’s beliefs and their ability to choose what is best for them (Rollins, 2020).

The highest health risks and higher incidence of mental health conditions are found mostly in men and women with the lowest educational degrees, lowest occupational positions, and lowest incomes. Individuals with a low socioeconomic status are less likely to seek treatment, and more likely to drop out of therapy than those of a higher socioeconomic status. This is believed to be as a result of lack of resources and lack of knowledge about the importance and advantages of psychotherapy (Levi et al., 2018).

Individuals who seek therapy often come from different walks of life and from different backgrounds. To provide culturally responsive treatment services, therapist, counselors, and other clinical staff need to become aware of their own beliefs, biases, and assumptions about others. Providers need to invest in gaining cultural knowledge of the populations that they serve and obtain specific cultural knowledge as it relates to help-seeking, treatment, and recovery (TIP 59: Improving Cultural Competence – SAMHSA, 2020).


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

Psychotherapy Changes the Brain. Frontiers Research Topics. doi:10.3389/978-2-88963-036-3

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

Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 13, 144.

Levi, U., Laslo-Roth, R., & Rosenstreich, E. (2018). Socioeconomic Status and Psychotherapy:

A Cognitive-Affective View. Retrieved from

Moleiro, C. (2018). Culture and Psychopathology: New Perspectives on Research,

Practice, and Clinical Training in a Globalized World. Retrieved from

Psychotherapies. (2020). Retrieved from

Rollins, J. (2020). Connecting with clients of faith. Retrieved from
TIP 59: Improving Cultural Competence – SAMHSA. (2020). Retrieved from

sample response

Thank you for your interesting post.  I like the point you made about psychotherapy being a “complete” biological treatment and having the ability to change the brain structure and conductivity of the frontal and temporal cortex (Javanbakht & Alberini, 2019).  Furthermore, serious mental illnesses have been shown to be treatable though psychotherapy, which proves to be a great alternative, especially for people who are highly sensitive to medication (Holttum, 2014).


Holttum, S. (2014). When bad things happen our brains change but psychotherapy and support can help the recovery of our brains and our lives. Mental Health and Social Inclusion, 18(2), 52-58. doi: 10.1108/MHSI-02-2014-0006

Javanbakht, A., & Alberini, C. M. (2019). Neurobiological models of psychotherapy: How psychotherapy changes the brain. Frontiers Research Topics. doi: 103389/978-2-8863-036-3

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.

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.

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.

Psychotherapy consist of different treatment techniques. These techniques help clients identify his/her behavior. In order to properly treat a client, the provider must be culturally competent. Each culture have different beliefs when it comes to mental illness. It is important to acknowledge the role of culture in psychotherapy because it helps frame specific expectations and customs within the psychotherapy experience (Gopalkrishnan, 2018). Culture, religion, and socioeconomics have a big influence on one’s perspective of the value of psychotherapy. The stigma of mental health has an impact on all cultures. For example, Asian Americans are less likely to seek any treatment for mental health. Researchers have found that most Asian Americans do not seek treatment because they feel pressure to be successfully academically and professionally, so in order to stay focused, the symptoms are ignored (Nagayama Hall, Kim-Mozeleski, et. al, 2019). Most Asian Americans feel that if they seek treatment they will be seen as weak. Asian American parents also admit to having feelings of shame and fear and that it may be from poor parenting (Nagayama Hall, Kim-Mozeleski, et. al, 2019). Suicide is the leading cause of death among Asian American between the ages of 12-19 years old (SAMHSA, 2019).

Studies show that people with a lower socioeconomic status have a higher chance of developing mental health problems (Reiss, Meyrose,, 2019). Having a low socioeconomic status cause more stressors like finances, jobs and healthcare. These stressors not only have an affect on the parents but the children as well. It is estimated that 13% to 20% of children and adolescents suffer from mental illness, worldwide (Reiss, Meyrose,, 2019).

The views of Freud and Albert Ellis have affected the attitudes of mental health professionals pertaining to the mental health effects of religion in a negative way (Dein, 2018). Although, studies show that religious involvement is conducive to better mental health (Dein, 2018).


Dein S. (2018). Against the Stream: religion and mental health – the case for the inclusion of

religion and spirituality into psychiatric care. BJPsych bulletin42(3), 127–129.

Gopalkrishnan N. (2018). Cultural Diversity and Mental Health: Considerations for Policy and

Practice. Frontiers in public health6, 179.

Nagayama Hall, G. C., Kim-Mozeleski, J. E., Zane, N. W., Sato, H., Huang, E. R., Tuan, M., &

Ibaraki, A. Y. (2019). Cultural Adaptations of Psychotherapy: Therapists’ Applications of

Conceptual Models with Asians and Asian Americans. Asian American journal of

psychology10(1), 68–78.

Reiss, F., Meyrose, A. K., Otto, C., Lampert, T., Klasen, F., & Ravens-Sieberer, U. (2019).

Socioeconomic status, stressful life situations and mental health problems in children and

adolescents: Results of the German BELLA cohort-study. PloS one14(3), e0213700.

SAMHSA. (2019). Destigmatizing Mental Health in Asian American and Pacific Islander

Communities. Retrieved from


sample response

I enjoyed reading your post this week. I also believe that the stigma of mental health has an impact on all cultures, and this is a huge barrier that can interfere with patients receiving the appropriate mental health services. The growing stigma of mental health and challenges are often considered a weakness and something to hide which can make it difficult for people struggling to ask for help or speak openly (Kapil, 2019). I believe that continued education, open communication, and building a relationship with the patient (on an individual basis) can help the individual feel that their identity is understood by the mental health provider. Understanding the individuals’ identity can lead to the patient receiving the best individualized care and support needed to address the mental illness. According to Vance (2019), “by explaining that mental health is an essential part of a persons’ well-being like; diet, and exercise, this can help with removing the stigma of mental health”. Continued education, support, and encouragement with all cultures are needed to remove this huge stigma that was placed on mental health.


Kapil, R. (2019). Four Ways Culture Impacts Mental Health. Mental Health First Aid.

Retrieved on September 3, 2020, from

Vance, T. (2019). Addressing Mental Health in the Black Community. Columbia University

            Department of Psychiatry. Retrieved on September 3, 2020, from

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