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Integrative Therapy

The main idea behind integrative therapy is that each of us is unique, and what would work perfectly for one is not necessarily what would work for you or others. A integrative therapist therefore works to make a program of therapy that suits your own distinct personal needs and issues.

What is Integrative Therapy?

Integrative therapy, or integrative counselling as practiced at Select Healthy Mind is based on a fully structured, but flexible approach to psychotherapy that brings together three major elements of psychotherapeutic practice - person-centered, attachment theory, and cognitive behaviour psychotherapy.

Our therapy uses a trans-theoretical model to provide a working framework to integrate each element into a highly  effective approach that fully acknowledges the complexities and uniqueness of each individual in a meaningful way.

Integrative therapists share the view that there is no single approach that can treat each client in all situations. Each person needs to be considered as a whole and counselling techniques must be tailored to their individual needs and personal circumstances.

It maintains the idea that there are many ways in which human psychology can be explored and understood and that no one theory holds the answer. All theories are considered to have value, even if their foundational principles contradict each other - hence the need to integrate them.

The integrative approach takes note of each person's personality and particular needs - integrating the different psychotherapeutic theories, whilst always addressing the role a client’s individual social and spiritual background.

Essentially, integrative counsellors are not only concerned with what works, but why it works - tailoring therapy to their clients and not the client to the therapy.

What is it’s aim?

Integrative therapy ultimately aims to promote healing and facilitate wholeness - ensuring that all levels of a person's being and functioning (mental, physical and emotional health) are maximised to their full potential. Clients must be committed to self-exploration and open to identifying what factors in their life are perpetuating problems, and/or are causing current concerns.

In particular, the integrative approach helps clients face each moment openly, without judgement or having formed an opinion, expectation or attitude beforehand. This enables them to better focus on the fears and hurts that limit their psychological freedom, and recognise specific triggers that may be causing disruptive patterns of behaviour.

Through this awareness, integrative therapy helps to create a healthy alliance between the mind and body - empowering clients to start setting goals and practising new behaviours that will enable them to move beyond their limitations and discover greater life satisfaction.

At Select Healthy Mind this will be worked towards alongside other goals that are drawn into therapy through the integration of other approaches. These will all be tailored to the client's personal limits and external constraints.  The aim of integrative therapy is to help you explore what is causing you problems in life and to create a bespoke program to 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 – mental, emotional, and physical.

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

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.

Contradicting theories can work together.

Even if psychological theories appear to contradict each other, they might be helpful to you if they are combined. So an integrative therapist, if they feel two seemingly different approaches could help you, will find a way to use both with you.

The client-therapist relationship is itself an important part of therapy.

Your integrative therapist commits to being part of your inner exploration and growth. They work to be supportive and non judgemental, listening with an open and present mind, and seeing you as their equal.

People, too, need be integrated.

Integrative therapy is not interested in just pulling together approaches to helping you, but also in pulling together the different components that make up your psychological wellbeing. They look at ways to access and unite not just your behaviour, thoughts, and emotions, but perhaps also your physical wellbeing, social skills, and your sense of spirituality.

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

As previously mentioned - Integrative therapy draws its theories and tools from the three main schools of psychotherapeutic thought – psychoanalytical (which includes psychodynamic), humanistic, and cognitive behavioural. While there is some crossover between these schools  (one grew out of the other, with psychoanalytic being first) one could define them each other by something along the lines of:

Psychoanalytical therapy explores your unconscious to discover how your past experience has informed your future and can involve free association and dream analysis.

Humanistic therapy is interested in your capacity to achieve your potential and believes you know best what works for you. It might look to the past for patterns but also focuses on helping you address present day behavioural patterns.

Cognitive behavioural therapy mostly focuses on changing your present day behaviour to improve your moods and ability to cope. It focuses on the connection between thought, emotions, and actions.

Mindfulness is also increasingly used. It is a set of tools that help you be more present to what you are thinking, feeling, and experiencing right now, instead of always being caught up in worries about the past and future.

Each approach offers explanation and insight into human behaviour, as well as a unique understanding of key factors that will result in changes to behaviour and other areas of functioning such as cognition and emotions. These can be reinforced when selectively integrated with other elements of therapy.

For example, if an integrative therapist is working with a client that has behavioural problems, they may want to start the therapy by working on adjusting behavioural functioning and reducing symptoms. This may involve applying cognitive behavioural techniques to help the client establish some control over their functioning before moving on to the next stage of therapy (i.e. working on improving, and gaining insight into the client's behaviours, emotions and thoughts). In this stage, the therapist may employ psychoanalytic techniques that recall childhood experiences and interpretation, dream analysis or analysis of transference.

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, helping you remember what happened and examining the way you interpret your past. If this trauma has led you to behave in ways you don’t like, perhaps your therapist would then use cognitive behavioural techniques to help you gain more of an ability to monitor and choose your reactions on a day to day basis.

Ways integrative therapy can be different to other forms of therapy are:

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, it can be changed mid-process

It is less structured or rigid

How is integrative therapy different than other forms of therapy?

Does integrative therapy have no structure at all, then?

Integrative therapy does not mean your therapist just randomly picks what they think would work for you from all the training they have. It follows a set pattern that the therapist can alter depending on how well your treatment is going.

At Select Healthy Mind our Integrative therapy is based on what is known as the trans-theoretical model, which is based on  a fully structured framework that has been accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

What are the benefits of integrative therapy?

The key advantage of integrative counselling is its flexibility and focus on the whole of an individual.

The integration of different approaches means therapy can be tailored to meet a variety of needs and concerns. It can be particularly beneficial for those who want to overcome negative patterns of behaviour caused by anxieties, fears, phobias or any other mental health issue that is greatly impacting life satisfaction (i.e. addictions, depression, past and current trauma, bereavement and low self-esteem).

It has also been found useful in improving daily function in children with autism and learning difficulties. Often these problems can affect the four dimensions of human functioning - affective, behavioural, cognitive, and physiological systems.

Due to the in-depth exploration of issues and setting of goals, integrative counselling typically requires a substantial investment of time on the part of the client. Therefore it may not suit those who want a quick, solution-focused approach to personal development. The length of the therapy will depend on the client, the therapeutic goals set and the types of issues that are being addressed.

You might find integrative therapy beneficial in the following ways:

When it’s used?

Integrative therapy can be used in almost any type of therapeutic work with children, adolescence and adults as an individual practice or within a group setting. This approach can be used to treat any number of psychological disorders and problems, including anxiety, depression, phobias, trauma, autism and personality disorders.  The integrative counsellor matches evidence-based treatments to each disorder and to each client.

Integrative therapy is beneficial for the following issues:

Integrative Therapy at Select Healthy Mind

At Select Healthy Mind Joanna Paczkowska has significant experience in working with Integrative therapy particularly in the treatment of young adults and children. Her therapy is based on study at the renowned University of Derby which is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), and fully recognised throughout the counselling and psychotherapy profession.

if you like the idea of a therapy which is a bit more bespoke and less rigid than other forms, then integrative therapy might indeed be for you?

Client-therapist relationship

The attitude and presence of an integrative counsellor is another crucial element of integrative therapy. The trans-theoretical model we use at Select Healthy Mind requires the therapist to be non-judgemental, interpersonal and intent on establishing a supportive and cooperative relationship with our client. We engage in deep, attentive listening without the pre-suppositions or judgements that can distort understanding.

This builds up a meaningful contract between equals that is thought to empower clients - helping you to explore and recognise patterns of behaviour that need to be addressed through change and the setting of new goals. This aspect of integrative therapy is often referred to as the personal integration of therapists - they are committing themselves wholly to their client and their exploration of self.