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It will, however, lay the groundwork to allow a therapist to speak in a knowledgeable way with consulting physicians and improve the likelihood of a good evaluation for the patient. Consider this scenario: A family comes to a psychotherapist for help because the middle child has been defiant and difficult. During the day, he is hyper-reactive and non-compliant.

Although not every mental health problem is masking a primary medical condition, one thing is certain – when there is an underlying medical component, psychotherapists who do not consider the possibility are certain to miss the diagnosis. This often leads to family squabbles, which frequently morph into arguments between the parents.

If there are accompanying medical problems (e.g., diabetes, cardiovascular disease), they may exhibit a poor response to therapy and/or psychotropic medication.

Naturally, it is not intended to provide psychotherapists with the tools needed to diagnose these medical conditions.

While psychologists and other mental health professionals in private practice also address family dynamics, they are more likely to spend time working with personal or phase-of-life difficulties, as well as treating symptoms of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.

There is no doubt that many family therapies and psychotherapies can be useful and effective in ameliorating these problems.

Although most patients will not have a causative underlying medical condition, the growing impact of environmental toxins, drug interactions, and degenerative diseases have increased the possibility that there is a medical origin for the condition.

While psychotherapists should not live in fear of missing an unsuspected medical origin, it is important to have adequate knowledge of the medical issues that could potentially relate to their patients' conditions.

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