What Is A Biopsychosocial Assessment And How To Create It

What Is A Biopsychosocial Assessment And How To Create It

The purpose of this blog is to discuss biopsychosocial assessments and the processes involved in conducting one. Engel’s theory explains biopsychosocial assessment. It is a method of determining what the cause of someone’s problems is by taking into account biological, social, and psychological factors.

George Engel developed the acronym in 1977. Biological, psychological, and social factors played a large role in the development of health and illness according to the study. Health was thought to be a purely medical area at the time, despite it seems obvious now. Throughout history, mind and body have been considered separate entities that function independently of each other.

Using Engel’s theory, medical and mental health practitioners began to look at people holistically for the first time. An integral component of the biopsychosocial theory is the understanding that human behavior and emotions are influenced by biological, social, and psychological influences.

Depressive episodes, for example, aren’t always the result of purely psychological causes. Environmental stressors or medical problems can also play a role. Biopsychosocial models are currently used to understand several medical and psychological issues, as well as human development in general.

biopsychosocial assessment template
biopsychosocial assessment template

What Are Biopsychosocial Assessments?

In a logical progression from Engel’s theory, biopsychosocial assessment emerged. To determine the cause of someone’s problems, this is an evaluation that takes into account the biological, social, and psychological components of their lives.

An assessment such as a psychological or medical evaluation tends to focus more on one area than others. Psychosocial evaluations usually occur at the start of mental health treatment, usually during the intake phase. This involves asking clients some questions about them.

Since it is more comprehensive, it may take longer to conduct than a standard therapy intake assessment. It is usually done to address a specific problem that is presenting in the biopsychosocial assessment, even if it is part of a more general examination.

Psychotherapy often involves a biopsychosocial assessment, but professionals other than therapists may also perform this function.

What to include in the biopsychosocial assessment?

The three domains mentioned in the assessment, biology, psychology, and socio-cultural influences, are all addressed in the assessment.


Genes, physiology, chemistry, and neurology are among the factors that determine biological factors. There will be questions about diet, sleeping habits, and family history that are related to biological aspects. The following are some examples of possible biology questions:

  • Do you take any prescribed drugs or supplements? If yes, what do you take?
  • Are you currently suffering from any medical conditions that are affecting your day-to-day life?
  • Has your family suffered from significant medical conditions? Please specify.


People’s personalities, thoughts, and consequent emotions and behaviors are psychological factors. This interview will ask about cognitive function, coping skills, and mood. The following are examples:

  • What kind of mood do you have? Do you have a history of self-harm or suicidal thoughts?
  • Have you ever had a family member suffer from mental illness?
  • Describe your four strengths and four weaknesses.


An individual’s behavior, emotions, and thoughts are influenced by several social factors. You may be asked to describe how your family relationships are, your financial stability, or your educational background. The following are some examples of possible social questions:

  • How close are your family relationships? Does your family provide you with emotional support?
  • Is there a job you have? Does it give you satisfaction and financial security?
  • Do you have anything going on right now that makes you stressed? Have you ever been stressed before?

How To Conduct A Biopsychosocial Assessment

  • Even though this is known as a biopsychosocial assessment, you will not necessarily find accurate information about each area. Depending on your research, you may discover that a client experiences anxiety because of job stress, but cannot find a biological cause for their distress. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s not enough for you to claim all three domains possess an influence on a problem or to make up reasons for it.
  • Every client in the assessment doesn’t need to verbally answer all of the questions. Intake packets can contain questions in written form. The more general questions may be filled out before your first meeting by the client at home or in the waiting room, saving you time. A face-to-face interview has the advantage of providing you with immediate feedback and allowing you to ask follow-up questions. In this regard, you might want to save questions that you believe are more pertinent to the presenting problem for verbal inquiry.
  • A client’s presenting problem may be unrelated to the amount of data gathered in this form of assessment. Select information that will allow you to most effectively address their current struggles from the information you gather.
  • Additionally, while it may be enticing (and easier) to give every client the same assessment, it may be harmful to ask everyone the same questions. The past medical history of a client may not matter too much if they are seeking therapy due to the death of a loved one. Try to tailor questions to the particular problem an individual is facing.

Biopsychosocial Assessments: Are They Necessary?

There are already many therapists who include certain questions about biological and social aspects of treatment in their intake interview. Their significance is rarely given the same emphasis, which is unfortunate.

Typically, psychological factors are prioritized in traditional assessment systems. Although those factors remain important, they do not account for other factors that affect mental health.

Since the 1950s, it has become increasingly clear that mind, body, and environment act together. To determine the exact impact of all these variables, humans are constantly affected by hundreds of factors.

Our understanding of human behavior is only possible when we examine biological, social, and psychological factors equally. Each domain plays a vital role in the difficulties that an individual experiences. In ignoring their importance analysis is unsatisfactory and inaccurate.

Hence, biopsychosocial assessment is essential because it examines holistically the nature of human nature.

Keeping A Record Of Your Biopsychosocial Findings

Using an EHR/practice management system, you can document your biopsychosocial findings. The evaluation templates they provide can be modified to meet your needs. You can also create your templates. Further, these platforms offer integrated intake, consent forms, client portals, scheduling, telemedicine (free with EMR), and much more.

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