Integrative Therapy is a philosophy of psychotherapy which draws on several different approaches when treating clients, depending on the specific needs and context. The therapeutic approaches I draw on the most are Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT), Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Narrative Therapy, and Mindfulness.
Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) uses methods designed to help people accept, express, regulate, make sense of and transform emotion. EFT focuses on the development of emotional intelligence and on the importance of secure relationships. Learning about emotions is not enough; instead, what is needed is for clients to experience those emotions as they arise in the safety of the therapy session.
With the help of the therapist's empathic understanding and the use of experiential methods, clients learn how to make healthy contact with feelings, memories, thoughts, and physical sensations that have been ignored or feared and avoided. By accessing adaptive emotions such as healthy grief, empowering anger, and compassion, people are able to use these as resources to transform maladaptive emotions such as fear, sadness of abandonment and shame of inadequacy that have developed from past negative learning or traumatic experiences.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) helps people to develop skills and strategies for becoming and staying healthy. It focuses on the here-and-now, on the problems that come up in day-to-day life. CBT helps people to examine how they make sense of what is happening around them and how these perceptions affect the way they feel.
CBT is structured, is problem-focused and goal-oriented, teaches strategies and skills, is based on a proactive, shared therapeutic relationship between therapist and client. In CBT, clients learn to identify, question and change the thoughts, attitudes and beliefs related to the emotional and behavioural reactions that cause them difficulty. By monitoring and recording thoughts during upsetting situations, people learn that how they think can contribute to emotional problems such as depression and anxiety.
Narrative therapy is a collaborative and non-pathologizing approach to psychotherapy, which considers people to be the experts of their own lives. A narrative approach views problems as separate from people, and assumes people have many skills, abilities, values, commitments, beliefs and competencies that will assist them to change their relationship with the problems influencing their lives. It considers the broader context of people's lives particularly in the various dimensions of diversity including class, race, gender, sexual orientation and ability.
We work together in resisting the effects and influences of problem stories. The focus is on co-discovering the hopeful, preferred, and previously unrecognized and hidden possibilities and unseen story-lines, collaborating in ‘re-authoring’ the stories of your life.
Mindfulness is based on Buddhist principles, and can help you learn to quiet your mind. It can help you learn to accept your feelings without being overwhelmed by them. It can help you stay focused in the moment so that you can appreciate and enjoy the richness of your experience. When you learn and practice mindfulness skills your calmness and mental control can improve significantly.
Mindfulness therapy can involve learning and practicing various meditation or breathing techniques that can help with distressing thoughts or feelings, or learning about different philosophies that can help get us out of “stuck” mindsets, improving self-esteem and our interpersonal relationships. Mindfulness is often combined with CBT as part of a larger treatment plan.
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