Integrative counselling and psychotherapy are considered one of the most effective approach form of counselling. Its strategies are found in every successful solution focused form of therapy. Overall, this approach believes that there is no single approach to psychological intervention that will work for every client. Instead, each person is distinct and unique, which means that a one-size fits all approach to therapy simply can’t be effective. Essentially, relying on a single approach to therapy will not appropriately treat the various psychological distresses that occur from one person to another.
This is a combination of two different approaches of a similar philosophy, which both suggest that linking two theories would be more effectively than a single approach. Two examples are cognitive analytical therapy, which was created from psychodynamic therapy and cognitive therapy, and conceived by Anthony Ryle. The other is conversational therapy developed by Hobson. Cognitive behavioural therapy is part of theoretical integration and trans-theoretical approach developed by Prochaska & DiClemente.
A problem that has been identified in theoretical integration is the fact it is difficult to integrate some theories. For example, behavioural therapy and psychodynamic therapy are hard to integrate because they have distinctly different assumptions, concepts, ideas, and philosophies. Behavioural therapy sees problems as more agreeable to change, while the psychodynamic approach believes that our early experiences, starting from birth, impact us, leading to psychological problems. As a result, the two theories are incompatible.
The goal of the common factors approach is to example the common tools available in each approach that could be helpful in therapy. There is no standard list of common factors, though there are some common factors that are unavoidable, including:
- Confronting difficulties
- The counsellor/ client rapport
- Social skills training
- The catharsis or emotional release
- Counsellor qualities, such as attention, congruence, empathy, and positive regards
- Time as a precious element in counselling
When taking an assimilative approach, the counsellor focuses on a single system of approach, such as psychodynamic or humanistic, while also incorporating strategies from other therapeutic approaches. One classic example is that a counsellor may understand a client in terms of cognitive theory because he/ she finds this approach beneficial in understanding what is going on in the process of the treatment. Nonetheless, the counsellor may remember that there are strategies in some therapeutic approaches that aren’t proposed by cognitive theory, but instead work very effectively and contribute to the overall treatment.
Counsellors can use gestalt therapy techniques such as “increase awareness” to inhibit automatic thoughts. According to gestalt therapy, this is enough and you shouldn’t have to “do” anything to change. Instead, as a client’s awareness increases, change will automatically happen. One of the functions of cognitive therapy is to attempt to bring automatic thoughts into awareness. Awareness is considered the first step toward change and enhanced problem-solving skills.
In technical eclecticism, the counsellor examines and then selects the top interventions. The counsellor uses their experience and knowledge of what has worked in the past for others through research literature and theories to choose the therapy that is most suitable for their client. Technical eclecticism has similarities and differences to assimilative integration, though it doesn’t have any theoretical underpinnings to the approach. The similarities shared between technical eclecticism and assimilative integration is that they both depend on a collection of therapeutic techniques that focus on the client’s wellbeing other than committing themselves to a specific school of thought of psychotherapy.