Holistic, Humanistic and Integrative
If you are not from a therapeutic or philosophical background then these words may not mean much to you, but they are very important as they describe the way in which we will work and the focus we will have.
Humanistic and Integrative
Humanistic therapy sees each individual as a whole person including body, feelings, mind and spirit. Humanistic approaches pay attention to a full range of influences including creativity, free will, and individual potential, in order to encourage clients to explore and develop themselves, their relationship to others and to society. People are considered as inherently “good” and greater than the sum of their parts, and therefore are deserving of empathy and have the capacity to grow, no matter how bad things seem to start with. The aim is to provide insight, which helps clients develop a stronger, healthier sense of themselves, as well as access and understand their feelings and gain a sense of meaning in life.
Working from this humanistic foundation is a safe and effective starting point from which to ‘integrate’ different appropriate methods from other approaches, to suit the client. This is known as working in an Integrative way. There are over 400 types of psychological therapy, and they can all work successfully, but this progressive way of working combines different therapeutic tools and approaches to fit the needs of the individual client. An integrative therapist modifies standard treatments to fill in treatment gaps that can benefit each client in different ways. By combining elements drawn from different schools of psychological theory and research, integrative therapy becomes a more flexible and inclusive approach to treatment than more traditional, singular forms of psychotherapy.
Integrative techniques can be incorporated into almost any type of therapeutic work with children, adolescents, and adults, in individual practice or group settings, and therefore are more inclusive of the client than traditional forms of therapy. This approach can be used with any number of issues, including depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. The therapist matches evidence-based treatments to each client and each client issue.
At the heart of humanistic integrative psychotherapy is the importance of the relationship between the therapist and client to enable mind, body, feeling, soul and spirit to come together as a whole. This is known as psychological integration, when conflicting aspects of self can be resolved and incorporated appropriately so they no longer cause difficulties in the same way as before. Together, the client and the psychotherapist are actively engaged in the whole process and shape of treatment – setting the client’s problems or issues, considering how the external world affects the client, working out what should happen in therapy and evaluating the outcomes.
As a commonly used word in a range of health and wellbeing fields, this term can sometimes have unclear meaning. In my work with clients, this simply means that the whole person and their environment is taken into consideration and helped to improve where possible. This may include aspects of physical health such as age, genes and underlying conditions, environmental circumstances such as living conditions and occupation, day-to-day lifestyle factors such as nutrition, physical activity and sleep, and aspects of identity such as spiritual practices or philosophical beliefs.