Most counselors in current times do integrate multiple forms of therapy, and it’s for a good reason. The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that integrative therapy, as the field is known, works much better than a single form of therapy alone. Here is a primer on how and why counselors use integrative therapy for the vast majority of their patients.

A Short Primer on Therapy

Therapy was invented in the late 1880s by a woman named Anna O. and her doctor Joseph Breuer, a friend and contemporary of Sigmund Freud. At the beginning of psychology, therapy was regulated to three types: behavioral, psychoanalytical/psychodynamic, and humanistic. These were used independently of one another in the late 19th century and into the early 20th century. This was for a practical reason in that the field of psychology, and counseling in general, was still new. Research would later find other therapy methods that would work for a variety of conditions and patients.

Types of Therapy

Since the 1880s, therapy has developed as a field that is as eclectic and unique as the populations that the field serves. There are now more than 400 varieties of psychological counseling approaches, including models, formats, length of session, and frequency of sessions. Examples of different types of counseling include the cognitive and systemic models of therapy, individual and group therapy sessions, and varying lengths of therapy sessions in terms of intensity and frequency. It is now also possible to find music, art, writing, and spiritually inclined therapy sessions and counselors.

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Definition of Integration in Therapy

The National Center for Biotechnological Information reports that Integration in therapy, which is more often known as integrative psychotherapy by experts in the field, is a term that depends on the counselor who uses it. There is a term known as “integrative perspective” that generally means that a counselor is flexible and inclusive when it comes to types of therapy for their patients. Integration can also mean a counselor specializes in a variety of forms of therapy and uses their own unique combination for their clients; this is usually a result of years of experience within the field.

A Counselor’s Approach

As stated above, most counselors integrate multiple types of therapy with their patients. Counselors generally have one model of therapy that their entire practice is based on but usually have secondary and tertiary models that they also have specialized in. This provides flexibility and inclusiveness in counseling, especially if a patient does not respond to the primary form of counseling. Those that practice integrative counseling often choose to define themselves as either integrative or eclectic counselors; patients will be informed of this during the cursory consultation with a counselor if the information was not previously made available to them.

Benefits of Integrative Therapy

Integrative therapy can be advantageous for patients; it enables counseling professionals to build a customized therapy program that is designed to help the patient in therapy. It also enables a professional to understand the needs and goals of a patient’s therapy while also taking into account any sensitivities they may have about entering into counseling. This is especially helpful for patients who come from diverse cultures, as standard American therapy practices rarely take into account cultural sensitivities.

Most counselors who practice integrative therapy are heralded by their patients as being compassionate and committed professionals who care about their mental health. Regardless of the reason for counseling, patients will benefit the most from a counselor who understands how to integrate different therapies to meet their needs. Now that integrative therapy is considered mainstream, the field can continue to grow, all the while serving the needs of the populations who are grateful for the profession.