In Search of Mental Health’s Holy Grail: The Era of Biology, CBT, and Other “Empirically-Based” Recipes

Amaro J. Laria


This article explores some of the existent biases in mental health practice in the U.S.A. that limit the ability of the mental health professions to adopt a true biopsychosocial approach in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. A tendency is evident to highlight the role of biological and cognitive-behavioral processes in the etiology and treatment of most mental health conditions. Some of the apparent underlying factors are briefly discussed, such as psychiatry’s professional identity as a medical subspecialty, the financial priorities of the health care insurance and pharmaceutical industries, the search for a sense of efficacy and concrete guidance among mental health clinicians, and factors associated with a sense of agency and responsibility among consumers of mental health services. This has led to an incomplete picture of the etiology of mental disorders and a selective bias and reductionism in our treatment approaches. Popular empirically-based treatments (EBTs) fall significantly short in the implementation of a true biopsychosocial practice in mental health. Suggestions are offered toward the development of a more comprehensive integrative mental health theory and practice that more adequately reflects the biopsychosocial model.


mental health practice; integrative psychotherapy; empirically-based treatments (EBTs); biopsychosocial model; USA.

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Rivista di Psicologia Clinica. Teoria e metodi dell'intervento

Rivista Telematica a Carattere Scientifico Registrazione presso il Tribunale civile di Roma (n.149/2006 del 17/03/2006)

ISSN 1828-9363