Integrative therapy, or integrative counselling is a combined approach to psychotherapy 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. Each person needs to be considered as a whole and counselling techniques must be tailored to their individual needs and personal circumstances.
Integrative counselling maintains the idea that there are many ways in which human psychology can be explored and understood – 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 also refers to the infusion of a person’s personality and needs – integrating the affective, behavioural, cognitive, and physiological systems within one person, as well as addressing social and spiritual aspects. 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.
Psychodynamic therapy – or psychodynamic counselling as it is also known – is a therapeutic approach that embraces the work of all analytic therapies. Its roots lie predominantly in Freud’s psychoanalysis approach, but Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Otto Rank and Melanie Klein are all widely recognised for further developing the concept and application of psychodynamics.
Like psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic therapy, the aim of psychodynamic therapy is to bring the unconscious mind into consciousness – helping individuals to unravel, experience and understand their true, deep-rooted feelings in order to resolve them. It takes the view that our unconscious holds onto painful feelings and memories, which are too difficult for the conscious mind to process. In order to ensure these memories and experiences do not surface, many people will develop defences, such as denial and projections. According to psychodynamic therapy, these defences will often do more harm than good.
Whilst it shares the same core principles of psychoanalysis, psychodynamic counselling is typically far less intensive – focusing primarily on immediate problems and attempting to find a quicker solution. It does however tend to provide the same benefits – helping people with a range of psychological disorders to make significant changes to how they make decisions and interact with others.
Person-centred therapy – also known as person-centred counselling or client-centred counselling – is a humanistic approach that deals with the ways in which individuals perceive themselves consciously rather than how a counsellor can interpret their unconscious thoughts or ideas.
Created in the 1950s by American psychologist, Carl Rogers, the person-centred approach ultimately sees human beings as having an innate tendency to develop towards their full potential. However, this ability can become blocked or distorted by our life experiences – particularly those that affect our sense of value.
The counsellor or psychotherapist in this approach works to understand an individual’s experience from their point of view. The counsellor must positively value the client as a person in all aspects of their humanity, while aiming to be open and genuine. This is vital to helping an individual feel accepted and better understand their own feelings – essentially helping them to reconnect with their inner values and sense of self-worth. This reconnection with their inner resources enables them to find their own way to move forward.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
Living with a mental health problem can sometimes make it hard to know where to turn for support. If you are not comfortable talking to your friends and family, you may turn to a professional. Cognitive behavioural therapy is a talking therapy. It looks to help you manage problems by enabling you to recognise how your thoughts can affect your feelings and behaviour. CBT combines a cognitive approach (examining your thoughts) with a behavioural approach (the things you do). It aims to break overwhelming problems down into smaller parts, making them easier to manage.
Cognitive behavioural therapy has become one of the most popular forms of talk therapy. It is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for common mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. During the treatment, your therapist will work with you and help you focus on the “here and now”. They will help you recognise how past events may have shaped your thinking and behaviours.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and commitment therapy (or ACT) is a form of behavioural therapy that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies to help increase psychological flexibility. It was developed in the late 1980s by Steven Hayes and associates in the U.S., and is gaining recognition as an effective treatment for a range of mental health issues and psychological disorders.
A predominantly time-limited approach, ACT therapy takes the view that by accepting negative thoughts and feelings, individuals can choose a valued direction in which to take action and make positive changes. In this way, acceptance and commitment therapy does not aim to directly change or stop unwanted problems and experiences. Instead it teaches individuals to develop a mindful relationship with them – promoting a psychological flexibility that encourages healthy contact with thoughts, reconnection with the here and now, realisation of personal values, and commitment to behaviour change.
Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT)
We often think having negative thoughts or feelings is bad or ‘wrong’ and that we are choosing to think like this, therefore we are a bad person, but the truth is nobody chooses to. Our brains evolved to react and sometimes they don’t react in a positive way.
The therapy also helps us generate emotions that can help change our thought patterns – like compassion. The brain is designed to create kindness and compassion as well as the more protective emotions like stress and anxiety, it’s just a case of learning how to activate this part of the brain.
Schema therapy (also referred to as schema-focused cognitive therapy) aims to change negative patterns or beliefs that people have lived with for a long time. The longstanding patterns or themes are called ‘schemas’ within schema therapy.
Underdeveloped self – Having the sense that you do not have an identity or are individual.
Vulnerability – Feeling as if the world is a dangerous place and that disaster can strike at any time.
Negativity/pessimism – A constant belief that negative aspects in life outweigh the positives and having a pessimistic outlook for the future.