Rather than continuing to lament the deficiencies of DSM-5, forensic psychiatrist David Mays, who’s also the author of the Major Mental Illness Pocket Guides, wants to focus on what’s ahead for the psychotherapy field. In his view, some of the most important advances in years to come will be finding objective, biological markers for many psychological disorders. This will lead to more focus on developing high-tech approaches incorporating methodologies like genetic scans, brain scans, and biochemical interventions.

In this video clip, Mays talks about the importance of looking at genetics. “Twin studies and adoption studies are fairly clear that for most human behaviors that can be measured by testing, there’s some genetic component. In fact, geneticists estimate that around 50 percent of our character, our personality, has some sort of genetic influence.” As we develop more accurate genetic scans, he believes, the mental health treatment of the future will focus increasingly on behavioral, biological and dietary prevention strategies.

Accordingly, posits Mays, in the years ahead, psychotherapists will become ever more specialized depending on whether they concentrate on working with clients with “normal brains that are unhappy vs. abnormal brains that don’t function properly.” Says Mays, “Some people will focus on doing therapy and teasing out the story that explains why people are the way they are. Others, like me, will maintain a strong biological bent. These practitioners will be more inclined to do biological interventions and treat folks in the abnormal brain category.”

“I think the big conflict is going to be over what’s considered reimbursable treatment,” Mays goes on to say. “The biologically-inclined practitioners are going to have an advantage because they’re going to have a objective markers they can point to. There’s going to be increasing demand for proof that something’s happening in treatment.”


Rich Simon

Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.