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Instead of rigidly focusing on only one approach and its theories and techniques, many counselors choose to incorporate one or more different approaches, or just bits from different approaches, into their style. The three different aspects of human experience that different approaches consider are feelings, cognitive patterns, and behavior (Corey, 2013). The integrative field is studying how best to incorporate all the techniques and theories of each human experience into the best form of psychotherapy.
Counselors who use an integrative approach sometimes call themselves “eclectic,” or more often “integrative.” There are four common types of integrative psychotherapy. One is technical integration, or focusing on tailoring the therapy to the client by selecting the best techniques from all sorts of different approaches. Another is theoretical integration, where instead of just looking at a couple of techniques from a lot of approaches, one would look at two more approaches and use nearly all of their ideas. Assimilative integration is focused mostly on one theory, but will add a few techniques from others as well. And common factors approach looks at theories that have common themes or techniques and incorporates them into one new approach. However, if a counselor seems to choose techniques without much research or understanding, grasping for possible ideas that might help, then they could be leaning towards syncretism (Corey, 2013), which is often unhelpful or even harmful.
Since human experience and behavior is so complex, integrative psychotherapy would have a better chance at getting at all of those intricacies better than any single theory could (Corey, 2013). When a counselor uses the best techniques that fit each individual, making each case unique each time, that counselor could end up being much more effective than if they stuck to only one approach. But it could be a challenging thing to develop one’s own style based on so many different ideas. Doing so could take years to become an expert, and if one isn’t careful, could end up harming clients, if one grabs different theories randomly, or assumes things incorrectly.
I would probably use the common factors approach, because I notice different aspects of a lot of the approaches that sort of fit together. I like the fact that the Postmodern approach, the Person-centered approach and the Adler approach avoid diagnosing people and focuses more on the “good,” and what the person already has going for them. I love the Person-centered approaches rules: “unconditional positive regard, empathy, and genuineness.” I can tell that always maintaining those rules may be a challenge, but it would be worth focusing on maintaining them everyday. Those rules can be applied in every session, regardless of what approaches one is using. I love Gestalt therapy’s “Now” and how it focuses on the present. It reminds me of “grounding,” a tool that is used for anxiety, and Mindfulness. Speaking of similar techniques, Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies both intrigue me, because they have proven themselves to help a lot of people, especially with psychoeducation. I would also use the idea of always focusing on the context and unique perception of each individual in order to better help them from Feminist therapy. All of the therapies that have ideas that interest me also have a positive view of people, yet another thing that can tie them together. I really agree with the integrative approach, because looking at all the different aspects of people and their lives is important and challenging, so one should use as many helpful ideas as possible, to get the best effect.
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