Integrative therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is often referred to as holistic. It is progressive in that it is a highly individualized form of therapy that combines different therapeutic tools and approaches for each individual client. Integrative therapy draws on different schools of psychological theory and research, as well as it is often inclusive of other forms of therapy to help with a person’s psychological needs. It is often looked at as a much more flexible and inclusive form of treatment for mental health than more traditional and singular forms of therapy.
How Integrative Therapy Works
There are many, many different forms of psychotherapy and within the different practices are many specialty areas that slightly to significantly alter the way a particular school of therapy is practiced. If you consider the different schools of psychotherapy, the populations of clients they serve and the length and frequency of therapy sessions, there are more than 400 different approaches to psychotherapy.
Therapists who are often trained in a traditional form of psychotherapy such as cognitive-behavioral, psychoanalysis, family or Gestalt therapy, etc., as well as therapists trained in therapies that are often considered alternative such as art, music or equine therapy, etc., often use tools and methods from different kinds of therapies to come up with integrative treatments for their patients.
Integrative therapy is not to be confused with the similar but different style of eclectic therapy. Integrative therapy uses techniques backed by scientific research and that are proven to treat specific psychological disorders, conditions and problems, whereas eclectic therapy is less concerned with whether there is empirical evidence to back a treatment method.
Most integrative therapists are licensed, professional therapists that have joined the growing integrative therapy movement within the general practice of psychotherapy. There are programs to train therapists to be integrative therapists but really, any licensed psychotherapist can take an integrative approach. The way individual therapists approach incorporating integrative therapy into their practice will depend on their education, skills, background and experience.
Integrative Therapy Theories
A key theory behind integrative psychotherapy is that there is no one theory or kind of therapy that is right for everyone, and that the human psyche can be accessed and understood in different ways.
Many traditional forms of psychotherapy seemingly contradict each other and tend to be practiced as a single form of therapy. An integrative therapist may see the benefit of integrating two or more seemingly opposing forms of therapy for a particular individual. This may help their patient to understand themselves as a whole being on a deeper and more intimate level than if they just were to explore this through one method and practice of therapy.
Integrative therapists focus on the client-therapist relationship where the client and the therapist work in conjunction with one another.
The term integrative therapy tends to be in reference to the form of integrative psychotherapy whereas the term integrative therapies refers to creating a whole, cohesive treatment plan to repair problems while enhancing the patients overall health and well-being. Integrative therapies bring together cognitive, behavioral and physiological systems within an individual to treat the person and their body as a whole. The term integrated or integration suggests that different therapeutic elements are used in conjunction with others, as one combined approach to theory and practice.
Integrative therapies are therapies that allow both the practitioner and patient to view and understand the body as a whole and the patient as a person that is part of that whole. Integrative therapies can mean any combination of complementary mainstream and alternative therapies to instigate and promote healing.
Benefits of Integrative Therapies
Integrative therapies can be used in conjunction with traditional and/or Western medicines and therapies for a wide range of maladies that can affect the body, mind and spirit. Integrative therapies promote wellness in all areas of life – physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual. Patients participating in integrative therapies often experience subsidiary benefits to those they entered into therapy seeking such as, their blood pressure is lowered, they sleep better, they have reduced anxiety levels, and they find themselves coping and managing stress and other things in their life better than they did before embarking on integrative therapies.
Learn more about integrative therapy and other holistic therapies with Change Your Mind-Body Health.