19 Oct The Benefits of Integrative Therapy
Integrative counselling is a combined approach to therapy that brings together different elements, approaches and therapeutic tools from various therapies to explore the clients problems. Integrative therapy aims to provide a unique, bespoke and personalised therapy that is suited to the needs of each individual client.
Integrative therapy generally follows the belief that, because every single one of us is unique, there is no single approach that holds all the answers to all our problems. Therefore, integrative counsellors will use various evidence-based techniques and theories that they deem appropriate to help the client to begin to solve and understand their problems.
Integrative therapy is becoming increasingly more common and due to its flexibility it can be used to treat a number of psychological problems and disorders such as: depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. Integrative therapy also lowers blood pressure, promotes restful sleep and reduce stress by providing stress management.
The theories at the core of an integrative counsellors beliefs are:
- There is not one theory, or therapeutic approach, that has the magic answer to all our problems.
- Contradicting theories from different types of therapies can actually work together to treat complexed disorders.
- The therapist-client relationship is a fundamental part of therapy. Integrative therapists commit to being part of the clients inner exploration and growth in a supportive and non-judgemental environment.
- The therapy tends to adopt a more humanistic approach and views the client as whole being, not as just a brain.
What Therapies Will Integrative Therapists Use?
There are over 400 different types of psychotherapies which differentiate in their theoretical bases, how long they take, who they serve, the client interaction and the therapist-client relationship. Integrative therapy takes the best ideas from many of these therapies to generate an effective and personal therapy. Some of the most common therapies that integrative therapy takes theories and techniques from are:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Very much favoured by the NHS, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is based on the concept that our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are all interconnected and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap us in vicious cycles of depression, anxiety or OCD. CBT therapists will teach their clients how to improve their negative patterns, which will in-turn improve the way they feel. CBT uses a wide range of techniques to change a clients negative thinking patterns, such as: systematic desensitisation, aversion therapy or flooding.
CBT has many strengths. There is lots of scientific evidence to support the therapy, with around 75% of people who have CBT experience benefits. CBT is helpful where medication alone hasn’t worked, it can be completed over a relatively short period of time, can be provided in different formats (groups, self-help books, computer etc), and it teaches practical strategies that the client can use in their everyday life.
However, CBT requires of lot of commitment as homework tasks need to be completed outside of the sessions. The therapy also places too much of an emphasis on the nurture side of the nature-nurture debate and focuses only on the client, not on their wider family, social and workplace issues. CBT is also not suitable for clients with more complexed health issues.
Psychodynamic Psychoanalytic Therapy
Psychodynamic therapy draws on the early theories of Sigmund Freud. This therapy aims to help the client heal by allowing them to understand, recognise and resolve their problems by increasing awareness of their inner world and its influence over their interpersonal experiences and relationships. The therapy can be used to treat depression and other psychological disorders, especially for those who have lost meaning in their life and have difficulty forming and maintaining personal relationships.
The strengths of psychodynamic therapy is that it focuses on chilldhood experiences, takes both nature and nurture into account and recognises subconscious affects on behaviour. Psychodynamic therapy can often encourage people to have more therapy, because they want someone who simply listens to them, which will help them heal more.
However, the psychodynamic approach and its theories are unfalsifiable because the assumptions are not scientifically proven. The approach also ignores biological components and often uses abstract concepts that are hard to understand.
Humanistic therapies view the person as a whole. The therapy will focus on the persons nature, rather than categorising groups of people with similar characteristics. It will explore how the client feels in the here and now and will provide an atmosphere of support, empathy and trust as both the therapist and client are viewed as equals.
Humanistic therapies can be used to treat depression, anxiety, panic disorders, personality disorders, schizophrenia, addiction and relationship issues through a range of therapies such as: existential therapy, gestalt therapy, human givens psychotherapy, person-centred therapy and many more.
There are many strengths to holistic therapies. You are an active agent in your recovery, the therapies promote a safe environment and they empower you to solve your own problems and the therapy provides a sense of self direction. However, the approach does lack scientific evidence, it limits the client to exploring things within their conscious awareness and they are not challenged by the therapist to consider their problems from different angles and perspectives.
So, Why Is Integrative Therapy Beneficial?
Looking at the above theories, wouldn’t it be handy if the strengths from each one could be tactfully used to treat all a wide and diverse range of problems? Say no more….
In short, integrative therapy offers the best of both worlds by using aspects of the above therapies to offer different solutions of every unique person, in every context and for every problem. Integrative therapy is so beneficial because it is:
- Personalised as each counsellor will bring together different techniques to treat each clients unique issues.
- Flexible as due to the large range of techniques that can be used, the therapy is open to being altered to fit both the client and the therapist.
- Inclusive as the therapy brings in common factors from lots of therapies that have been deemed to work, such as: making the therapy emotionally charged, encouraging healing in safe setting, providing a therapeutic ritual, focusing on therapeutic relationships, explanation, reinforcement, desensitisation, information sharing, client expectation and therapist empathy.
- Focus on the whole of the individual. Many therapies do not consider all aspects causing the clients issue, whereas integrative uses a range of techniques to explore all parts of the client (mind, body, brain, unconscious, conscious).
- Related to theory as integrative councillors aim to use only evidence based theories, techniques and ideas.
Why It works?
It is now a growing agreement among psychotherapists that using a single psychotherapeutic approach is not effective and appropriate for all patients, problems and contexts. Integrative therapy works because it includes the strengths of each therapy to treat a wide range of mental illnesses.
It uses evidence based techniques to create a individualised programme that responds to each client. The therapy pays particular attention to affective, behavioural, cognitive and physiological level of functioning. Essentially, it allows for better adaptation of the therapy to the distinctive characteristics and needs of each client by allowing therapist to tailor their knowledge and experience to suit their needs.