Integrative therapy is a combined approach to counselling that merges various elements of specific therapies. An Integrative therapist has the view that there is no single approach for everyone. Everybody is unique, therefore counselling techniques must be tailored to suit their personal needs and circumstances.
The integrative approach also refers to the infusion of the affective, behavioural, cognitive and physiological systems within one person, as well as exploring social and spiritual aspects. This approach allows for therapy to be tailored to a client's need, not the other way around.
What is the aim of Integrative Counselling?
Integrative therapy aims to maximise a person's mental, physical and emotional health in order to promote healing. It is necessary that clients be committed to self-exploration and be open to identifying which life factors are causing them problems or concerns.
More specifically, this approach helps the client to face each moment in a session openly and genuinely without having to feel any expectations before hand. This enables clients to focus more clearly on the pain and fear that limit their psychological freedom, and also to uncover specific triggers that may be causing disruptive behavioural patterns.
As a result of this awareness, there is a healthier alliance between mind and body which helps to empower clients. Goal setting and altering detrimental behaviours will enable clients to move beyond their limitations and discover greater life satisfaction.
By tailoring other approaches to each client's personal limits and external constraints, goals can be worked towards in a challenging yet non-threatening way.
How does Integrative Counselling work?
As mentioned before, integrative therapy is centred on the exploration of life experience. The integrative therapist must foster this by using techniques and key concepts drawn in from various approaches that create a unique therapy for the client.
Integration of approaches
There are many ways in which human functioning can be explored and understood. Therefore integration can occur through a variety of perspectives. Some of these are:
- Humanistic therapies
- Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies
- Psychodynamic therapies
Each approach offers insight into human behaviour as well as a unique understanding of key factors that will result in changes in areas of functioning such as behaviour, cognition or emotions.
It is believed that an integrative therapist must be non-judgemental, interpersonal and intent on establishing a supportive and collaborative relationship with each client. It is also essential that the therapist engage in attentive listening without assumptions that could distort understanding.
The aim of this equal relationship is to leave clients feeling empowered, enabling them to explore and and recognise patterns of behaviour that could be altered in order to bring about positive change. This has become known as the personal integration of therapists, where they are committing themselves wholly to clients and their exploration of self.
Benefits of Integrative Therapy
Integrative therapy provides flexibility and focus on the whole of an individual. By integrating several different approaches, therapy can be tailored to meet a variety of needs and concerns. It can be particularly beneficial for those who want to overcome detrimental patterns of behaviour caused by anxieties, fears, phobias, and many other mental health issues.
The length of this therapy will depend on the client, the goals that have been set and the types of issues that are being addressed. Therefore, this type of therapy may not suit those who wish for a quick solution focussed approach.