by Andrea M. Darcy
Want to try therapy, but can’t seem to choose between several different types that all seem promising? Integrative therapy could be the solution.
What is integrative therapy?
It is just what it sounds like, a form of therapy that integrates different things. In this case it’s different forms of psychotherapy being combined together.
The main idea behind integrative therapy is that you are unique. What would work perfectly for you is not necessarily what would work for other people. An integrative therapist works to make a program of therapy that suits your personal needs and issues.
Is it easy to find an integrative therapist?
Integrative therapy is one of the most popular types of therapy in the UK.
Given the wide array of therapies on offer nowadays, most therapists have several forms of training. Or they have studied at a school that has a program of integrative therapy that unifies different schools of psychotherapeutic thought.
What is the aim of integrative therapy?
The aim of integrative therapy is to help you explore what is causing you problems in life, and to then help you begin to approach life in a more open and productive way.
But it is also about helping you function at your best levels in all areas of your life. This includes mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.
Integrative therapy is about integrating yourself, and all of the various parts of your personality and being, into a balanced and effective whole.
The Main Theories of Integrative Therapy
1. There is no one theory that is the magic answer.
Integrative psychotherapy believes that the human psyche can be accessed and understood in different ways.
2. Contradicting theories can work together.
Even if psychological theories appear to contradict each other, they might be helpful to you if they are combined.
3. The client-therapist relationship is itself an important part of therapy.
Your integrative therapist commits to being part of your journey, and sees you as their equal. They work to be supportive and non-judgemental, and they listen with an open and present mind.
4. People, too, need be integrated.
Integrative therapy is not interested in just pulling together approaches to helping you. It’s also focused on pulling together the different components that make up your wellbeing. They look at ways to access and unite not just your behaviour, thoughts, and emotions, but also your physical wellbeing, social skills, and your sense of spirituality.
5. You are a whole being.
Integrative counselling is fairly holistic, taking into account your mental and emotional wellbeing as well as your physical wellbeing.
How integrative therapy works
Integrative therapy draws its theories and tools from the three main schools of psychotherapeutic thought. These are psychoanalytical (which includes psychodynamic), humanistic, and cognitive behavioural therapies.
Psychoanalytical therapy explores your unconscious. It’s aim is to discover how your past experience has informed your present.It can involve tools like free association and dream analysis.
Humanistic therapy is interested in the inner resources you already have. It believes you know best what works for you and that we all have potential. A humanistic approach might look to the past to explain your current patterns of behaviours and thinking. But it mostly works with your current day issues.
Cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is mostly present focused. It is interested in the cycle between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that can lead to low moods. By helping your troubleshoot your thinking and actions, it helps you feel better and cope better.
Mindfulness is a tool that is often used by integrative therapists. It helps you be more present to what you are thinking, feeling, and experiencing right here and now. The idea is that stress and upset tend to come from our judgements of the past or worries about the future.
How does an integrative therapist blend approaches?
Which approaches your therapist uses, and in what order, depend on you and what your issues and challenges are.
For example, if you have come to see your integrative therapist as you are troubled by a childhood trauma? They might use psychodynamic tactics to help you remember what happened, and to understand interpret your past. If this trauma has led you to behave in ways you don’t like, your therapist might then use cognitive behavioural techniques to help you recognise your thoughts and troubleshoot your reactions.
photo by Tima Miroshnichen for Pexels
How is integrative therapy different than other forms of therapy?
Integrative therapy can be different to other forms of therapy because:
- there is no exact model of working (although therapists might have some of their own models)
- the therapy is fitted to you, instead of vice versa
- it is flexible, and can be changed if after several sessions there is no progress
- the therapist-client relationship is one of equals and is very supportive.
Does integrative therapy have no structure at all, then?
Integrative therapy does not mean that each session your therapist just randomly picks what they think would work. They know how each approach works with the other, it’s not experimental.
Also, during your first few sessions your therapist will get to know you and your issues and together you will together decide what approaches might help. Then each session will have structure and use the different approaches in a measured way.
What are the benefits of integrative therapy?
Integrative therapy can be beneficial by helping you to:
- understand what causes you to feel challenged in life
- recognise your triggers that lead to unhelpful behaviours
- be supported in trying new, more productive ways of being
- spot limitations you’ve set on yourself and find ways to move beyond them
- integrate all the different aspects of yourself (mind, body, emotions, social skills, spirituality)
- set goals that lead you toward a life you feel happy about
- begin to face your life in a more open, available, and less judgemental way.
What issues is integrative therapy recommended for?
Integrative therapy can be beneficial for the following issues:
Ready to try this type of therapy? Harley Therapy offers highly experienced integrative psychotherapists and counselling psychologists in London locations. You can now book a first appointment online. Not in the UK? We now also offer online therapy worldwide.
*Do you have an experience about integrative therapy you’d like to share? Or a question you’d like to ask? Do so below, we love hearing from you.
Andrea M. Darcy left a career as a screenwriter to train in person-centered counselling and coaching and is now a popular mental health writer here in the UK.