BIOLOGY: PSYCHOLOGY: SOCIOLOGY
What are biopsychosocial approaches? Why are they important? In treating mental health problems, I, like many other clinicians, take a biology-psychology-sociology approach. This means I believe the etiology of mental health problems arise from a combination of biological, psychological and sociological factors. As such, it is important to treat and address each of these in working towards symptom resolution. Here is a brief summary of what each aspect is as related to your mental health, and some treatment approaches that may be discussed as part of your therapy session:
BIOLOGICAL: The brain operates on electrochemical signals sent through the use of neurotransmitters. When emotions are out-of-whack, this means that the neurotransmitters in the brain are out-of-whack, too. Ever heard of serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, or epinephrine? These are just some of the neurotransmitters responsible for our emotional responses in the brain. Sometimes clinicians will call etiological symptoms from neurochemical imbalances "endogenous," meaning we are feeling too many effects of certain neurotransmitters and not enough of others. There are both natural and psychopharmocological ways to treat endogenous symptoms. In other words: there are natural and medicinal ways to improve the balance of neurotransmitters in your brain and reduce your symptom presentation.
PSYCHOLOGICAL: Therapists spend a lot of session time here. This refers to cognition, or the way you think. We may be predisposed to certain thought traps, patterns in our thought processes, assumptions, negative or anxious thoughts or other cognitive pathways that are precipitating our symptoms. Identifying and addressing these in therapy has also been the focus of many theoretical approaches in psychology. Have you heard of CBT? DBT? REBT? These are just a few of many theories in psychology that explain how the way we think impacts the way we feel, and by making changes in one, we can make changes in the other. Recognizing and changing to healthier cognitive patterns is an important way to reduce your symptoms.
SOCIOLOGICAL: Human beings are greatly impacted by the interactions that they have with others throughout their lives. Understanding these interactions and their impact is another powerful treatment tool. Things like trauma, difficult life experiences and challenges, current stressors, grief and loss, relationships and more are all examples of sociological factors that impact us and our symptoms. Looking for ways to build social support and address gaps in our support system is also an important therapeutic goal in therapy.
Consider when you are working towards mental wellness, your journey will include addressing and improving your biological, psychological and sociological health. Expect to spend time in therapy on each of these and share your own insights and experiences on how they impact you. The good news is, not only are symptoms presented and impacted in each of these ways, but each area also represents a group of tools to help you feel better!
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is a Creativity Coach, Creativity Counselor and Professional Artist in Sykesville, Maryland. She provides Online Creativity Counseling in Maryland and Virginia, and Online Creativity Coaching throughout the USA, Canada and the UK.
The information provided in this blog is from my own clinical experiences and training. It is intended to supplement your clinical care. Never make major life changes before consulting with your treatment team. If you are unsure of your safety or wellbeing, do not hesitate to get help immediately.