The Customised Approach
People are complex, and consequently personal issues raised during therapy can be multifaceted and intricate. You may, for example, be highly stressed by work, but this doesn’t mean your problem isn’t linked to your spiritual life or irrational thinking. Similarly, you may be driven by unconscious motivations, making Psychoanalytic techniques beneficial for you, but you can also do with the unconditional acceptance of Humanistic professionals. For this reason, one-style-fits-all therapies can be inadequate.
But psychological schools of thought need not exist in a vacuum. While there are therapists who lean towards one orientation, there are also practitioners who choose to understand how various approaches flow into one another. These mental health professionals practice Integrative Therapy.
As the name implies, Integrative Therapy stems from an appreciation of how different psychological theories may, in fact, be explaining the same dynamic. Think of different psychological orientations as pieces of a puzzle. Integrative therapists put the pieces together to offer more holistic treatment..
The word “integration” may also refer to a complete view of the individual, and thus a more encompassing approach to therapy. Interventions would account for physical, emotional, cognitive, behavioural, and even spiritual causes and maintainers of a symptom.
More so, this type of therapy attempts to integrate different aspects of the same personality. We know of how the conscious, pre-conscious, and the unconscious should integrate from Psychoanalysis; how the self, the shadow, and the persona should integrate via Jungian Therapy; how verbal and non-verbal messages should be congruent via Person-Centred Therapy; and how thoughts, feelings, and behaviour must be one through Cognitive Behavioural approaches. Integrative Therapy puts all these psychological constructs in one blender.
How does it work?
Integrative Therapy is different from eclecticism wherein therapists pick and choose from different psychotherapies. Instead, Integrative Therapy is a marriage of various styles. This marriage may be theoretical in nature: complementary theories are considered as just one theory. Or therapists may look for commonalities among different approaches and apply interventions based on those commonalities.
For example, an Integrative therapist may see depression as a product of (a) poor interpersonal relationships, (b) the impact of flawed early childhood attachments, and the (c) inability to communicate their experience. With this conceptualisation of the presenting problem, Integrative Therapists can (a) support clients in developing social skills, (b) increase awareness of the unconscious, and (c) emphatically listen to concerns all in the same series of sessions.
What issues does it treat?
Well, anything and everything! By definition, Integrative Therapy is versatile and all-encompassing.
Some therapists, however, would favour one type of integration over another, based on their experience, study, and preferences. After all, with so many therapy styles to choose from, it’s impossible to integrate them all. To better profit from this kind of therapy, research your practitioner’s personally formulated approach. First sessions are usually reserved for this kind of assessment, and clients are not obliged to continue therapy if they aren’t comfortable with their therapists’ integrative style.
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