Integrative counseling (A complete guide)

Integrative counseling
Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behaviour, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.

In this article, we are going to talk about “Integrative Counseling” and will explore the integrative approach and its benefits. 

Integrative counseling (A complete guide)

What is Integrative Counseling? 

Integrative counseling is a form of psychotherapy that, as the name suggests, combines different approaches and techniques in order to help the client in the best way that suits him or her. An integrative counselor is trained to use elements from different schools of psychological theory such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Gestalt therapy, Transactional Analysis, and the Humanistic approach

By embracing different points of view, integrative counseling is unique in the way it approaches treatment, making it more flexible and inclusive. The purpose of integrative counseling is to work with all aspects and systems of the human psyche: behavioral, cognitive, affective and physiological systems are seen as a whole.

What is the aim of Integrative Counseling? 

The integrative counseling aims to adapt to the client’s particularities and personality by using tools and concepts specific to cognitive, behavioral and psychoanalytic psychotherapies, relaxation techniques, clinical hypnosis, somatotherapy, etcetera. 

The aim is to be flexible and to not adjust the client’s needs to one single therapeutic method, but to take into consideration the complexity and the uniqueness of the human being. One of the main objectives of integrative counseling is to offer the client the possibility to feel good about himself, now benefiting from valuable tools to help him navigate through life. 

Who can benefit from Integrative Counseling?

Anyone can benefit from Integrative counseling. The techniques used in the integrative approach can be tailored to anyone’s needs, regardless of age, gender or nationality. An integrative counselor can work with children, adolescents, and adults either in individual practice or group settings.  

Integrative counseling is successfully used in treating a great number of psychological problems such as:

  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety and phobic disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Disorders of sexual dynamics
  • Psychosomatic disorders (bronchial asthma, enuresis, eating disorders, pain, and trauma)
  • Problems of adaptation and social, professional orientation
  • Couple and family therapy. 

The goal of an integrative concept is to work with each individual as a whole, with the utmost respect for one’s limits and personal circumstances. 

Integrative counseling (A complete guide)

What happens during an Integrative Counseling session?

During a session of Integrative counseling, you can feel free to discuss the problems that brought you to the therapist’s practice in the first place. 

Usually, a session starts by creating a secure framework and setting goals that will help you solve your problem. Your counselor will then develop a therapeutic plan and will guide you, as the number of the sessions grows, towards the achievement of your goals. 

After reaching your objectives, there might be a few more sessions that aim to enforce the new behavior, to teach you tools in order to cope with eventual relapses and to maintain the results achieved in therapy. 

What are the benefits of choosing an Integrative counselor? 

  • An integrative counselor will take into consideration your emotional, behavioral, mental and psychological wellbeing. Your self-esteem and spirituality are important aspects that are included, in the treatment plan. 
  • The therapeutical results will aim to improve the quality of your life by optimizing life within the family through conflict resolution, within the social framework through the development of your communication skills, and o a personal level by discovering a new perspective on life. 
  • The aim of an integrative counselor is to guide and give you the necessary tools for emotional balance, inner peace, joy and the feeling that life is worth living. 

What is Integrative Humanistic Counselling?

Integrative Humanistic Counseling therapists consider that the clients are the only expert in his or her life. This is a core belief that shapes the entire therapeutic process. The role of the counselor is to create a safe space, where the client will not feel judged for being who they are are and for their problems. The therapist’s practice is the space where a person can deal with their pain and issues and make a  decision at a pace that is right for him or her. 

Another important principle that an integrative humanistic counselor respects is that deep down all people are good. Our true self is honest and positive, and despite the negative events in our lives, we have great potential and motivation to become better. This concept is called “actualization”. 

Other known belief of Integrative Humanistic Counselling is holistic thinking. A person is made out of: their whole body, emotions, thinking, social and spiritual aspects. Developmental or healing work cannot be directed to one of these aspects without reference to the others.

Phenomenology is the belief that life is viewed through a unique, subjective experience. A therapist needs to step into his client’s viewpoint rather than hold to his own because different views of what constitutes reality are not often the same. 

The power belongs to the client. Only he or she can make choices and decisions, based on their life experience and willingness to change. The client has an equal part in the therapeutical process. 

Should you choose to attend counseling with an IH therapist, you will know that he or she has a well-thought-out approach and that you will be an equal party in the relationship.

What to look for in an Integrative Counselor?

An Integrative counselor is somebody trained and licensed in Integrative psychotherapy. 

By simply searching on Google for “Integrative counselor near me” you should get many results for counselors and psychotherapists in your area. However, before making an appointment, the best advice I could give you is to check for the therapist’s credentials. 

If you are from the USA you can find the link to all the accredited integrative psychologists in your state here

Choosing a therapist is an important step, so don’t hesitate to do a bit of research and interview potential candidates about their training and experience in treating problems like yours. 

Here are some questions that might help in your search for the best therapist:

  • Do you want to go to counseling by yourself, with a partner, child or family? 
  • What are your goals and expectations?
  • Who is specialized in your type of problem?
  • Does your insurance cover therapy sessions?
  • Will you be paying out of your economies? How much are you willing to spend?
  • Would you rather go to individual or group counseling?
  • How far are you willing to drive?
  • What days and times would be convenient for you?

Questions to Ask the counselor:

  • Are you a licensed counselor in the state that I live in?
  • How many years have you been practicing?
  • Do you have experience in working and treating conditions similar to mine?
  • What are your fees? Do you accept my insurance? What are your policies on a cancellation or missed sessions?

Do not forget to ask the counselor about any other concern you might have, like confidentiality or their view on people with different nationality or religious background. 

What are an Integrative Counselor’s responsibilities? 

  1. An Integrative counselor has the responsibility to take proper training before starting working with clients. 
  2. To use their best knowledge, skills, and experience to promote their client’s wellbeing.
  3. To respect their client’s beliefs, values and ability to make decisions.
  4. To respect the client’s ethnic and religious orientation
  5. Not to discriminate between clients on the basis of gender, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation and social class.
  6. Be aware of the influence they can exert on their clients through the nature of the relationship and not exploit them emotionally, sexually or financially. 
  7. Maintain a professional relationship with the client as long as this relationship is beneficial to the client.
  8. To respond promptly and appropriately to the needs of the client. An integrative counselor must endeavor to remedy the harmful situations that their clients are going through and to prevent the recurrence of these situations in the future. 

These are just some of the responsibilities of an Integrative counselor, but they highlight the respect that a trained professional has for their clients, and debunk the myth that a counselor or a psychotherapist can manipulate and read your mind. 

Integrative counseling (A complete guide)

Conclusions

In this article, we talked about “Integrative Counseling”, learned what happens during a session of integrative counseling, and leaner more about the benefits of this psychotherapeutic approach.

Integrative counseling is beneficial for everyone and the techniques used by a trained integrative psychotherapist are beneficial to all types of psychological problems and disorders, including depression, anxiety disorders, insomnia, couple and family therapy.  While integrating tools from different psychological currents, integrative counseling is flexible and inclusive, the therapeutical plan is always adjusted to the client’s needs. 

If you wish to give Integrative counseling a try, do your research and choose an accredited professional that will guide you toward a more joyful and fulfilled life. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Integrative Counselling?

Integrative counseling is an approach in psychology that uses therapeutical tools and elements from different psychological theories. Integrative counselors see the individual as a whole and believe that a unique therapeutical method should be used for each client. 

What is an Integrative theory?

An Integrative theory is a theory that combines the elements of two or more prior existing theories, in order to obtain a new set of elements that adheres to their ideology and in result creates a new theory.  

What are the four major approaches to psychotherapy integration?

The four major approaches to psychotherapy integration are considered the primary models in psychotherapy: technical eclectism, assimilative integration, common factors, and theoretical integration. 

What is the difference between eclectic and integrative Counselling?

The difference between electing and integrative counseling is often questioned and creating confusion. Integrative reflects the therapy model, which combines different elements and fuses them together. Eclectic is the term that best describes the therapist who selectively applies tools and techniques from a variety of approaches. A therapist has the freedom of creativity in the use of both the theories and the techniques. 

What is integrative or holistic therapy?

Integrative or holistic therapy refers to the belief that a person should be seen as a whole. Integrative or holistic counselors focus on the relationship between one’s mind, body, and spirit, attempting to heal and create harmony between these systems. 

What is Humanistic Integrative Counselling?

Humanistic Integrative Counseling is a psychological approach that, when working with a client, takes into consideration the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. The counselors are trained and have a series of responsibilities towards their clients. 

Integrative counseling (A complete guide)

Recommendations

If you want to learn more about Integrative Counseling: 

  1. The art of integrative counseling
  2. Integrative Counseling and psychotherapy: A relation approach  

If you are interested in self-help exercises:

  1. Anxiety Journal: 8 weeks Daily Anxiety Workbook
  2. Looking at Mindfulness: Twenty-Five Paintings to change the way you live
  3. People I just can’t stand: Anger management therapy journal

References 

  1. How does integrative therapy work 
  2. What to expect from integrative therapy
  3. Integrative humanistic counseling  

Integrative counseling (A complete guide)