The Bio-Psycho-Social Approach in Counselling    


Like many counsellors and Coaches, we tend to subscribe to what is called a bio-psycho-social model around many of the issues that bring people to counselling. What this means essentially is that human behaviour is very complex and that oftentimes there are biological, psychological and social factors involved. These factors are frequently inter-related and can be responsible not only for the creation of “the problem” but also with the genesis of a solution.

Depression is a good example of this phenomenon. At the biological level, factors such as decreased sunlight or genetic factors may play a role in depression. At this level, a solution such as exercise or anti-depressant medication or health diet may be part of the solution. Likewise, at the psychological level, the way we think about the events in our life may predispose us to depression. At this level, a solution such as counselling and learning to think and respond differently to the issues that life throws our way may be part of the solution. Finally, at the social level, there are a number of social factors related to our gender, age, marital status, minority status etc. that may predispose people to depression. At this level, solutions such as increasing one’s social supports or challenging oppressive social structures may be part of the solution.

Of course, because of our bio-psycho-social nature, “solutions” to depression, may involve strategies or interventions at one or more levels. Many people may need to try a number of options to find the right solution for them. There doesn’t seem to be a one size fits all approach for depression.

In talking with our counselling clients, we have noticed that people often think of antidepressant medication (biological) and/or counselling (psychological) as strategies to deal with depression. The combination of these two strategies can be very effective. What is less well-known is the impressive research literature supporting both diet/exercise (biological) and/or mindfulness therapy (psychological/biological) as interventions for depression. While these two strategies do involve consistent effort and may require more of people’s time, they really are effective.

We as counsellors work from a bio-psycho-social perspective, we consider all of these aspects in the lives of our clients regardless of whether the issue is depression or some other concern that brings them to see a counsellor.

Using extensive clinical counselling experience and life coaching skills, we accompany our clients through accomplishing desired change(s), major life transitions and challenges. Clients are supported to design and implement their preferred life’s “blueprint” within a collaborative and supportive partnership. This work can be both personally and professionally transformational.