Here at City and West Psychology we prefer to account for individual needs and match therapy to a client, rather than a client to a therapeutic model. Our therapists are influenced by and have extensive knowledge of a variety of psychological approaches and they are happy to integrate techniques and theory from these approaches with particular presentations and concerns. The idea behind Integrative therapy is to move beyond the potentially narrow confines of one specific therapeutic approach, and instead focus on developing a therapeutic and truly effective encounter between each client, therapist and situation. This means that each client will experience a truly unique approach, an approach that is specifically tailored to his or her distinctive needs, situation and difficulties. Thus the expertise of the therapist will be merged with your needs, with the view to ensure the best possible result for you.
An integrative therapeutic approach will seek to bring already existing theory together to a distinctive and more comprehensive theory. This will result in an approach that both translates well into practice and is grounded in a unique theoretical foundation. Integrative therapy encourages flexibility around how the therapist works clinically, and how the process of change is viewed. When working integratively, our therapists will seek to adopt a flexible way of practicing and an open way of thinking. This method of practice should not be viewed as an approach where the therapists seemingly randomly picks the ‘best’ bits from each theoretical approach like they are out shopping at the supermarket, for them then to return home to make a cake of the chosen ingredients. Instead this method of practice will be unified by a holistic understanding of the presenting problems. The therapists will work from a clear theoretical base, but they will view this theory as open rather than closed, and be prepared to make changes to accommodate their own and the client’s needs, as well as to account for new research and reflective practice. They will aim to conduct a broad exploration of the client’s difficulties and adopt a creative stance that will help them move beyond a single theory or therapeutic technique. There is currently good evidence that an integrative therapeutic approach can be effective in treating a wide selection of difficulties, and perhaps especially presentations that have appeared to be resistant to ‘pure’ therapeutic approaches in the past.
So how does Integrative Therapy work?
In integrative therapy the therapist will focus on the common factors that have been proven in all therapies to work, namely affective experiencing, cognitive mastery and behavioural reformulation. In line with this they will consider the individual demands and experiences of each client and select therapeutic strategies and techniques that will match the chosen theory and the client’s need most accurately. At the core of this work will be an emphasis on the therapist’s ability to generate hope and an expectation of change in the client. Particular attention will also be given to the development of a strong therapeutic alliance between client and therapist. Both therapist and client are encouraged to adopt a flexible and open-minded approach to therapy, where new ideas can be voiced, explored and challenged within a framework of unconditional support and empathy.