What is integrative counselling?
Integrative counselling, as the name suggests, is a combined approach to counselling that brings together different elements of specific therapies. Integrative therapists take the view that there is no single approach that can treat each client in all situations. Rather, each person needs to be considered as a whole and counselling techniques must be tailored to their individual needs and personal circumstances
What is the aim of integrative counselling?
Integrative counselling 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 and authentically without 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 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. 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 attitude and presence of an integrative counsellor is another crucial element of integrative therapy. It is generally believed that the most effective model requires the therapist to be non-judgemental, interpersonal and intent on establishing a supportive and cooperative relationship with their client. They must also engage in deep, attentive listening without the presuppositions that can distort understanding.
This meaningful contract between equals is thought to empower clients - helping them 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.
Benefits of integrated counselling
A key advantage of integrative therapy 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, making it arguably a more flexible and inclusive approach to treatment than more traditional, singular forms of psychotherapy.
Who can benefit from counselling?
It can be particularly beneficial for those who want to overcome negative patterns of behaviour caused by anxiety, fears or phobias. It can be equally effective for any other mental health issue that is greatly impacting life satisfaction, such as:
- Past and current trauma