Integrative psychotherapy aims to bring different therapeutic models, methods and philosophies together in a principled way. My approach integrates elements of contemporary psychoanalytic psychotherapy with a Humanistic emphasis on a direct and real relationship. I also incorporate into my practice some principles of Brief Dynamic Psychotherapy and Emotion-Focused Therapy, which clinical outcomes research has shown to be effective across a range of difficulties.
There are many things that one can say about integrative psychotherapy and there are many approaches to psychotherapy integration. The most important consideration, for me, is an attitude of being always ‘on the leading edge of change’, forever open to the possibility of a new synthesis or new theory, but ultimately never aiming to arrive at a state of theoretical completion.
“Why suppose this moment in evolution to have offered us everything that could be needed to understand the world?” ~ Iain McGilchrist (2012)
To believe that one has somehow arrived at the end of knowledge and knows the answers to the important questions of life is, to my mind, to find oneself dead in the water. Psychotherapy integration must therefore always remain an unfinished project, and one could say much the same thing about a course of psychotherapy or indeed a human life.
There is no shortage of self-help books that offer ‘answers’, be they some new formula for living or a recipe for a happier life. Many of these have a lot of merit, and if you’ve found one that works for you, it may be that you can get by without coming to see a psychotherapist.
I find it helpful to think about models of psychotherapy as different ‘languages’ for working with human experience. The Russian linguist Mikhail Bakhtin identified two forces that are always at play in any living language: ‘centripital’ forces pulling meaning towards a centre of shared understanding; ‘centrifugal’ forces drawing words away from agreed meanings towards new forms – a process leading to the creation of new dialects and in time to entirely new languages. I believe that therapy works best as a living ‘language’ that has robust foundations in things that are already (believed to be) known and understood about human beings, because the integrative project most defintely is not a question of simply ‘making it up as we go along’. However, genuine therapeutic endeavour also requires that psychotherapy remain open to the uniqueness of each person, such that something new may be discovered or created, something thought that has never been thought before.