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Integration of clinical neuroscience into psychotherapy: A narrative review of neuroscience-informed psychotherapy models for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders

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Yu Takizawa, Judith Murray, Matthew Bambling, Yuki Matsumoto, Yuma Ishimoto, Takahiro Yamane, and Sisira Edirippulige

 

Abstract

The development of neuroscience-informed psychotherapy models that attempt to refine existing psychotherapy models, especially for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders, is a current topic in psychotherapy research. This narrative review appraised the existing literature on neuroscience-informed psychotherapy models to understand the extent to which the integration of neuroscience can advance the practice of psychotherapy for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. The literature search on online databases identified 21 articles that report five different neuroscience-informed psychotherapy models specifically designed to overcome the limitations of top-down-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) models for depression and anxiety disorders, such as inconsistent treatment effects. Unlike conventional top-down-focused CBT models, which primarily focus on promoting top-down regulation of the brain by improving the cognitive functioning regulated by the higher brain system, the models reviewed commonly focus on promoting bottom-up regulation of the brain by improving the emotional and physiological functioning regulated by the lower brain system with a diverse combination of techniques. However, most reviewed neuroscience-informed psychotherapy models lack research evidence from clinical trials that support the efficacy of these models. The development of a neuroscience-informed psychotherapeutic model is still in its infancy. Future neuroscience-informed therapeutic models will need to be continuously modified, adjusted, and developed by integrating the latest psychotherapy and neuroscientific knowledge and feedback from clinical trials and case studies. Such research may promote the credibility and effectiveness of neuroscience-informed therapeutic models.

 

Keywords: neuroscience, psychotherapy, counselling, depression, anxiety, brain

 

Address for Correspondence
Yu Takizawa

yu.takizawa@uqconnect.edu.au