How Can a Brain Scan Make Psychotherapy Work Faster?
Dave and Bonnie were getting frustrated with marital therapy. They had been going to an experienced therapist for three years and had spent a lot of money trying to save their marriage, but they weren’t making any progress. Despite the strategies and relationship tools the therapist had taught them, they were still bickering and feeling unhappy in their marriage. Dave was admittedly a big part of the problem. He had been a nice, thoughtful guy when they first married, but now he would explode with anger, was narcissistic, and antisocial, and he wasn’t getting any better from the psychotherapy sessions.
After much consideration, the therapist finally gave the couple an “F” in marital therapy and told them it was time to get divorced… unless they wanted to try one last option—getting brain scans to see if there might be some other underlying issue.
What Brain Scans Can Reveal About Psychotherapy Patients
Bonnie and Dave agreed and underwent brain imaging tests called SPECT, which measures blood flow and activity in the brain. The results changed everything. All of a sudden, it became clear why they weren’t having any success with marital therapy despite having a great therapist. And they realized why therapy probably never would have worked for them no matter how many years they devoted to it.
Bonnie’s brain scan looked healthy. Dave’s, however, looked very unhealthy—shriveled and full of holes. Dave’s brain pattern is one that is commonly seen in people who abuse drugs or alcohol. But Dave swore he didn’t drink or use drugs, and Bonnie confirmed it. “That is not his problem,” Bonnie said. “He’s just a jerk.”
Why Did Dave’s Brain Look so Toxic?
Other than drug or alcohol abuse, there are many things that can contribute to a toxic-looking brain, including brain infections, hypothyroidism, and environmental toxins. The problem became clear when Dave said he worked in a factory finishing furniture. The chemicals and solvents Dave was using every day at work were eating away at his brain.
No wonder he was acting like such a jerk. And no wonder he was incapable of following through on any of the proven strategies the therapist had taught him. No amount of psychotherapy was going to heal Dave’s brain.
Healing Dave’s Brain
Dave took a medical leave of absence and eventually returned to a job at the factory that didn’t involve exposure to harmful chemicals. With a treatment plan focused on healing his brain, Dave made great strides.
For Bonnie, understanding that her husband’s problem was biological in nature made her more willing to support him as he went through treatment. When Dave’s brain was healthier, he was finally able to put the relationship tools and strategies from therapy into practice, and their marriage improved. Divorce was no longer on the table.
5 Ways Brain Imaging Can Help Psychotherapy
1. Like with Dave, getting a SPECT brain scan can reveal underlying biological factors, such as abnormal blood flow or activity, that may be contributing to behavioral issues that prevent you from getting what you need out of therapy.
2. Brain imaging helps you get a more accurate diagnosis, so you can get more effective treatment for any brain-related issues.
3. By healing the brain, it makes it easier to follow through with the strategies and tools provided in psychotherapy—whether it’s couples therapy, family therapy, individual therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or some other form.
4. When your brain is working right, you can take full advantage of psychotherapy, which can be a very powerful piece of a treatment plan.
5. Brain scans eliminate the guesswork involved with psychotherapy, which helps you get the benefits faster.
Dave was scanned, diagnosed, and treated at the Amen Clinics, where brain imaging and lab work are essential components of the evaluation process. If you aren’t making the progress you’d like to in psychotherapy and would like to investigate potential causes, speak to a specialist today by calling 888-288-9834. You can also schedule a visit online.