What is integrative counselling?
BACP member Kate Megase explains what an integrative counsellor does and what to expect from integrative therapy
Integrative counselling draws on techniques from different types of therapy to tailor an approach specifically for you.
An integrative counsellor believes there isn’t just one therapeutic approach that can help a client in all situations. Instead, they take into account you as an individual and your circumstances, and use elements of different approaches to help you explore and cope with your problems.
Kate Megase, an integrative therapist based in Croydon, says: “Every client who walks through the door is different. What works for one person might not work for another. As an integrative therapist, you can choose the right approach for the individual. I generally use a bit of everything. It’s all round support and makes therapy unique for that person.”
What does an integrative counsellor do?
The integrative approach may include elements of person-centred therapy. This focuses on you rather than the counsellor being the expert on yourself, and aims to help you reach your full potential. Your therapist will help you achieve that by accepting and valuing you, being honest and transparent with you and offering you unconditional positive regard.
Your therapist may draw on psychodynamic therapy. This involves helping you to bring your subconscious - what is just below the surface of your awareness - into your conscious mind. It helps you become more aware of what’s in your subconscious, such as difficult memories and experiences, so you can understand how these deep-rooted feelings impact on you in the present and how you can learn to cope with them.
The therapist might bring in elements of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This looks at your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and helps you to change some of these where they are unhelpful using a variety of practical strategies and tools, such as journaling.
And, if appropriate for you, your therapist may bring in elements of other approaches too.
What to expect from integrative counselling?
Says Kate: “Therapy gives you a safe space, without judgment, to help you explore your thoughts and feelings.
“You’ll go through a journey of self-discovery and increased self-awareness. First it’s about awareness, then acceptance and then change. It will help you to make healthier and better choices for yourself."
Your therapist will not become too emotionally involved, using their own emotions just to help them understand your feelings and your situation, they have no ulterior motive. They are there for you.
“Throughout the process, your therapist will review your work together and look at what’s been working for you and what’s not. They will highlight the progress made,” she says.
What can integrative counselling help with?
Integrative therapy can help with a range of short and long-term issues, including anxiety, depression, trauma, relationships, addictions, bereavement and low self-esteem.
“It can have many benefits because it’s so personalised and such well-rounded support,” says Kate. “Integrative therapy can help with emotional wellbeing and mental health, enabling people to live life to their full potential.”