Integrative counselling and psychotherapy promotes the concepts of wholeness and unity in therapeutic practice. It encourages clients to re-claim parts of themselves that are damaged or require healing. Gently exploring neglected painful fragments of the self allows these to be gradually incorporated into a more integrated and less conflicted sense of personal wholeness.
Integrative psychotherapy also endeavours to heal the bitter historical divisions different schools of therapeutic thinking have inherited from the past. It stresses that no single approach can treat all clients in all situations. Instead it advocates for ‘attuned therapists’ able to work in delicate harmony with each unique client, and resource, from all the rich branches and traditions of psychotherapeutic practice, whatever insights and methods may be beneficial to their individual needs.
How does integrative psychotherapy work?
Integrative therapists acknowledge the client as an active partner in any work undertaken. Whilst they may offer options and make suggestions, the client alone determines how therapy progresses. Integrative therapists borrow from tried and tested therapeutic models. For example, they use core teachings from Person-Centred Counselling to establish a safe environment in which to maintain confidentiality and build a relationship based on unconditional positive regard. Where appropriate, elements of Psychodynamic theory might support an exploration of the childhood roots of a pattern of troubling behaviour. In easing immediate distress, findings from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) might be used to generate positivity. Thus, integrative therapists are pragmatic in attuning their practice to their clients’ needs, but steadfast in focusing on the overarching integrative aim of a client becoming more ‘at one with oneself’.
Who is integrative psychotherapy suitable for?
Integrative psychotherapy is suitable for anyone wanting to review their lives or explore specific dilemmas or aspects of their lives. It may benefit clients unsure how to proceed as it offers a potential framework for experimenting with different therapeutic models to determine what resonates best with their current internal life.
What issues or problems are suited to integrative psychotherapy?
Integrative psychotherapy by its nature is flexible and open. It can be used to treat specific individual difficulties including
- attachment issues
- changes and transitions
- families and relationships
- work dissatisfaction
- existential crisis
- suicidal and despairing thoughts
It can be used to work with couples, families or groups and lends itself to both long term and short term work.
Its attention to the socio-economic-political systems embedded in clients’ lives offers a solid foundation from which to explore complex issues of personal identity: gender, race, adoption, sexuality, disability, and geographical belonging. Individual therapists will have their own areas of expertise and experience in applying integrative principles to particular issues and problems, and it is worth discussing this with them.
How many sessions will I have?
In the beginning it is usually preferable to agree a set number of weekly sessions with a therapist. This regularity establishes a good working relationship and allows the therapy to attain its own pace and familiarity. After this, people decide what will be best for them. Some clients dip in and out of therapy, others come for an extended period, while occasionally some require only a few sessions to attain a sense of clarity or achieve resolution about a difficult decision. The number of sessions you attend is ultimately in your hands.