Why Not All Mental Health Problems Are Psychological

Minding the Body Means More Than Just Taking a Pill

Even though we recognize that physiological processes hugely influence cognition, emotion, and behavior, too many therapists still tend to practice as if treatment should focus entirely on the mind, says functional medicine psychiatrist Robert Hedaya. There’s a need to analyze the body as well as practice traditional psychotherapy, he says. “Learn to keep your ears open to nutritional, bodily, or energy complaints,” he explains. “Therapists can do a tremendous amount if they just expand their thinking.”

In the following interview with Networker Editor Rich Simon, Hedaya explains how therapists can save their clients time, stress, and money by educating themselves about nutrition and hormones, and proposing alternatives to medication such as diet changes and meditation.

As Hedaya notes, a comprehensive physiological evaluation is often needed before determining if a client’s issues are purely psychological or if a medication trial is needed. “Antidepressants have a role in clinical practice, but they are grossly over-utilized,” he says. “We rely on drugs as a solution rather than deal with root causes of illness, and the pills are generally not as effective as we would be led to believe by the pharmaceutical companies.”

Psychopharmacology is just one tool in our toolbox. Whether you’re working with clients opposed to taking medication, unresponsive to it, or you’re just curious about alternative interventions, helping your client change lifestyle habits that affect the body may be the right choice for you. Take a look at some of our other articles on psychotherapy and the body, below, and let us know what you think.