My Approach to Counselling

Integrative Psychotherapy is a unifying psychotherapy that responds appropriately to each person at emotional, behavioural, cognitive, and physiological levels of functioning and also addresses the spiritual dimension of each person's life.

The term 'integrative' of Integrative Psychotherapy has a number of meanings. It refers to the process of integrating the personality: acknowledging disowned, unaware or unresolved aspects of the self and making them part of a cohesive personality, reducing the use of defence mechanisms that inhibit spontaneity and limit flexibility in problem solving, health maintenance, relating to people, and re-engaging the world with full contact. It can be seen as the process of making whole. Through integration, it can become possible for people to face each moment more openly without the protection of a rigid, pre-formed opinion, position, attitude, or expectation.

Integrative Psychotherapy also refers to the bringing together of the emotional, cognitive, behavioural, and physiological systems within a person, with an awareness of the social and transpersonal aspects of the environment surrounding the person. These concepts are framed within a perspective of human development in which each phase of a person's life presents heightened developmental tasks, different needs, points of crisis, and opportunities for new learning and growth.

Integrative Psychotherapy takes into account many different perspectives on human functioning. The psychodynamic, client-centred, behaviourist, cognitive, family therapy, Gestalt therapy, body-psychotherapies, object relations theories, psychoanalytic, self psychology, relational and transactional analysis approaches are all considered. Each provides a partial explanation of behaviour and Integrationists believe that each view is enhanced when selectively integrated with other aspects of the therapist's approach. The psychotherapy interventions used in Integrative Psychotherapy are based on developmental research and theories describing the self-protective defences used when there are interruptions in a person's development.

The aim of integrative psychotherapy is to facilitate more of a sense of wholeness (as opposed to fractured or shattered), such that the quality of the person's being and functioning in the intra-psychic (inner life), interpersonal (relationships) and sociopolitical space (a person's place in the world) is maximised with recognition of the individual's own personal limits and external constraints.

Within this framework, it is recognised that integration is a process to which therapists also need to commit themselves. This means that there is a focus on the personal integration of therapists. There is an ethical obligation on Integrative Psychotherapists to maintain discourse with colleagues of diverse orientations, to continue their own self development and to remain informed of developments in the field.