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Biological Basis and Ethical/Legal Considerations of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy explores the richness of human brain-mind functions, complex behavior, and maladaptive responses and recognizes and integrates scientific approaches to address psychological issues affecting patients. Psychotherapy integrating scientific approaches related to neuroscience means that it is a biological treatment that does not target one receptor, but it taps into all the biological regulations underlying complex brain responses (Javanbakht & Alberini, 2019, p. 144). Psychotherapy bases its operations on the principles of evolutionary adaptation and genetics of the brain, signifying that it has a biological basis. Javanbakht and Alberini (2019) affirmed that psychotherapy seeks to deactivate maladaptive mappings of the brain and infuse constructive and positive pathways. The therapeutic approach has to understand the biological principles underpinning the organism in order to align the whole organism in the constructive pathway. Psychotherapy is also coherent with the genetics of individuals, evidence in its dealing with the abnormal adjustments of the brain in the sequence of their evolution. It closes the mishandled brain mappings and helps the brain nature new constructive pathways.

The role of Culture, Religion, and Socioeconomics in Influencing the Value of Psychotherapy Treatments

Culture plays a significant role in the way individuals interact. It has a strong impact on how individuals understand health and other healing aspects. An individual’s culture can influence assumptions within the psychotherapy experience. The perception of psychotherapies differs with culture, which explains the role that culture plays in establishing the credibility or acceptance of types of psychotherapeutic treatments in the clients’ perceptions and those of their families (Moleiro, 2018). Culture also determines how individuals comply with psychotherapy treatments (Moleiro, 2018). In conventional psychotherapy experience, individuals have a social behavior of engaging with skilled professionals where they discuss matters involving the probability of change, vulnerability, confidence, and mutual understanding.

Religion also plays a significant role in the way individuals perceive and value psychotherapy treatments. Clients can use spiritual and religious beliefs to process information and shape judgments. Therefore, religion can impact one’s experiences, feelings, thought processes, emotions, and behavior that are interconnected with psychotherapy knowledge (Captari et al., 2018). These aspects related to the client’s religious beliefs are critical in driving therapeutic processes. An appropriate therapeutic practice must promote good religious values, which will ultimately promote a positive belief system, mobilize hope and boost the coping abilities of the client (Captari et al., 2018). Consequently, the client will experience increased recovery progress and the success of their health outcomes.

Finally, an individual’s socioeconomic status also influences their perspective on psychotherapy treatments. Evidence indicates that the patient’s socioeconomic status has a role in influencing the perception of both the therapist and the patients alike. According to Finegan et al. (2018), individuals from low socioeconomic status are less likely to seek psychotherapy treatments compared to individuals from higher socioeconomic status. Levi et al. (2018) also affirmed that individuals from lower socioeconomic status perceive psychotherapy as less effective compared to those from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. Socioeconomic status impairs several aspects of cognitive domains, including mental flexibility as well as self-emotion sensitivity and regulation. These domains play a vital role in the success of psychotherapy.

How Legal and Ethical Considerations of Group and Family Therapy differ from Individual Therapy

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) guides healthcare providers in practicing group and family therapy. This policy requires that healthcare providers protect their client’s confidential information from unauthorized entities unless the patient gives consent for certain persons to be privileged to their private health information (Edemekong et al., 2018). The provisions from the HIPPA laws mean that group and family therapy face more legal and ethical difficulties than individual therapy. In family and group therapy, the ethical consideration is based on the foundation premise of the family as a system which means that the therapy focuses on the relationship. Clients are more willing to openly disclose their information in individual therapy than in group and family therapy since there is a trusting relationship between the client and the therapist. Unlike individual therapy, family and group therapy are linked to the dilemma of multiple clients with the same experience, but the interventions may not serve the best interest of all the parties (Twist & Hertlein, 2017). In addition, group and family therapies are associated with conflicting goals and interests of the involved parties, while in individual therapy, the client is encouraged to explore potential ramifications of their actions (Wrape et al., 2019). The therapist has an ethical responsibility to promote the welfare of every member involved in the group and family therapy, unlike in individual therapy where they are only committed to promoting the welfare of the individual involved in the individual therapy, hence the individual therapist has fewer responsibilities that family and group therapist.

With respect to legal consideration, the key difference between individual therapy and group and family therapy is informed consent. The therapist is forced to treat the confidence of each member in group and family therapy as if the person were an individual client (Wrape & McGinn, 2019). The therapist must uphold the confidentiality of the individual client to other family members. The therapist is also responsible for ensuring that information obtained during a private session involving group and family therapy is not divulged to other family members. On the other hand, individual therapists only need to seek one client’s permission to utilize information.

How Ethical/Legal Differences Impact Therapeutic Approaches

The ethical responsibilities attached to group and family therapy necessitates the therapist ensure that improvement in the status of one client does not occur at the expense of another. It implies that the therapists must always advocate for the family system during the therapeutic process and avoid biasness towards one member of the therapy as part of ethical consideration. As part of preserving the members’ confidentiality in therapeutic approaches for clients in group and family therapy, the therapist must secure sessions with individual family members to encourage sharing confidential information. Therefore, as a therapist working involved in group and family therapies, obtaining informed consent from each member in the therapy would be paramount. If permission is not granted, all information must be kept confidential.


Captari, L. E., Hook, J. N., Hoyt, W., Davis, D. E., McElroy‐Heltzel, S. E., & Worthington Jr, E. L. (2018). Integrating clients’ religion and spirituality within psychotherapy: A comprehensive meta‐analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology74(11), 1938-1951.

Edemekong, P. F., Annamaraju, P., & Haydel, M. J. (2018). Health insurance portability and accountability act. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing, Treasure Island (FL).

Finegan, M., Firth, N., Wojnarowski, C., & Delgadillo, J. (2018). Associations between socioeconomic status and psychological therapy outcomes: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Depression and Anxiety35(6), 560-573.

Javanbakht, A., & Alberini, C. M. (2019). Editorial: Neurobiological models of psychotherapy. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience13, 144.

Levi, U., Laslo-Roth, R., & Rosenstreich, E. (2018). Socioeconomic Status and Psychotherapy: A Cognitive-affective view. J Psychiatry Behav Health Forecast. 2018; 1(2), 1008.

Moleiro, C. (2018). Culture and psychopathology: New perspectives on research, practice, and clinical training in a globalized world. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 366.

Twist, M. L., & Hertlein, K. M. (2017). Ethical couple and family e-therapy. Ethics and professional issues in couple and family therapy, 261-282.

Wrape, E. R., & McGinn, M. M. (2019). Clinical and ethical considerations for delivering couple and family therapy via telehealth. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy45(2), 296-308.


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