Integrative therapy is a combined approach to psychotherapy that brings together different elements of specific therapies – humanist, psycho analytical and cognitive. Integrative therapists take the view that there is no single approach that can treat each client in all situations. Each person needs to be considered individually and techniques tailored to their specific needs and personal circumstances rather than the other way around. All theories/approaches are considered to have value, even if their foundational principles contradict each other – hence the need to integrate them.
The advantages of this integrative approach are that it is both flexible and holistic, able to meet a wide range of needs and tackle all sorts of issues because it incorporates different theories and methodologies but also because, rather than focus solely on one or two aspects of a person, therapists view the individual as a whole, integrating the emotional, rational and behavioural parts of a person as well as addressing social and spiritual aspects.
Integrative therapists strive to be non-judgemental, interpersonal and intent on establishing a supportive and cooperative relationship with their client. They also engage in deep, attentive listening without the pre-suppositions 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.