A Definition of Integrative Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy began to develop as a separate science to psychology and psychiatry around the turn of the last century following the pioneering work of Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939), an Austrian neurologist. Although his academic career began in Philosophy and Law, Freud quickly moved into medicine and undertook research into Cerebral Palsy, Aphasia and the Anatomy of the Nervous System. This led him to develop theories about the unconscious mind and the mechanisms of repression of emotions and behaviour. He created and developed the technique now known as psychoanalysis. A clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between the patient and the practitioner. Though the pure psychoanalysis of Freud has declined as a therapeutic practice, its existence and understanding have led to the development of many other techniques now known as psychotherapy.
An integrative therapist develops over time. After being trained in one method of psychotherapy, the therapist begins to practice and, after further training in other techniques, will combine the different theories and techniques to form the basis of a new practice. Integrative Psychotherapists, as they are known, are trained in several different therapeutic approaches and will combine those techniques and schools of practice depending on the needs of the patient. They will blend several different theories, drawing on elements of each to best help and support their clients. They are concerned not only with what works, but also why it works.
Use of the word ‘integrative’ not only indicates a fusion of different techniques of psychotherapy. It also refers to the integration of the personality and needs of the patient in the therapeutic work. This brings together the affective, cognitive, behavioural and physiological systems within one person, delivering a tailor made package to address the patient’s needs.
One size does not fit all when it comes to psychotherapy. Different patients with different needs require different approaches at different times. An integrative approach draws on different schools of thought and ways of working to produce the most effective therapy for each individual client.
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