I am an integrative counsellor, which means I have trained and qualified to use the following approaches, Psychodynamic, CBT and Humanistic. Integrative counselling is a combined approach to psychotherapy that brings together different elements of specific therapies. Each approach offers explanation and insight into human behaviour.
As an Integrative therapist I take the view that there is no single approach that can treat each client in all situations. Each person needs to be considered as a whole and counselling techniques must be tailored to their individual needs and personal circumstances. Integrative counselling maintains the idea that there are many ways in which human psychology can be explored and understood – no one theory holds the answer. Essentially this means that as an integrative counsellor I am able to tailor therapy to clients and not the client to the therapy.
The aim of Psychodynamic therapy is to bring the unconscious mind into consciousness – helping individuals to unravel, experience and understand their true, deep-rooted feelings in order to resolve them. It takes the view that our unconscious holds onto painful feelings and memories, which are too difficult for the conscious mind to process. In order to ensure these memories and experiences do not surface, many people will develop defense mechanisms, such as denial and projections. According to Psychodynamic therapy, these defenses will often do more harm than good.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
The idea behind CBT is that our thoughts and behaviours have an effect on each other. That by changing the way we think or behave in a situation, we can change the way we feel about life. The therapy examines learnt behaviours, habits and negative thought patterns with the view of adapting and turning them into a positive. Unlike some other therapies, CBT is rooted in the present and looks to the future. While past events and experiences are considered during the sessions, the focus is more on current concerns. CBT helps you to understand any negative thought patterns you may have. You may learn how they affect you and most importantly, what can be done to change them. Cognitive behavioural therapy looks at how both cognitive and behavioural processes affect one another and aims to help you get out of negative cycles. The emphasis on behavioural or cognitive approaches will depend on the issue you are facing.
There are various approaches within the humanistic model. Humanistic therapies focus on self-development, growth and responsibilities. They seek to help individuals recognise their strengths, creativity and choice in the ‘here and now’. Person-centred therapy aim’s to focus on an individual’s self worth and values. Being valued as a person, without being judged, can help an individual to accept who they are, and reconnect with themselves.
Mindfulness is a humanistic technique, which aims to reconnect us with ourselves to alleviate stress. It also helps us to feel more attuned with our emotions and generally more aware of ourselves both mentally and physically.
Mindfulness involves focusing on sights, sounds and physical sensations while trying to reduce ‘brain chatter’. Some people struggle with mindfulness meditation at first, finding it hard to focus their attention, but this is to be expected and may require practice. Practicing the technique regularly can help people take a step back, acknowledge their ‘brain chatter’ and view it accurately and without judgement
Creative therapy is a combination of using visual imagery, guided imagery and visualisations. Also things like expressive writing including, goodbye letters and journals. The use of objects such as stones and shells can be helpful as it allows the client to choose objects that represent people connected with their issue or feelings, allowing them to see their problems in a different way, which helps the client explore their feelings, more easily. Art therapy is a type of psychotherapy that can help when a client is upset or confused. Some clients find that they are unable to describe their experience or express their feelings. It helps people explore their thoughts and emotions in a unique way. It helps those who may find it difficult to verbalise their feelings. When clients feel distanced from their feelings or are too upset to talk about their painful experiences, art and creativity allows them to express their feelings. Art therapy can be beneficial to a wide range of people including young children.
Creative therapy offers an opportunity for creativity and expression, this type of therapy helps to communicate emotions that may otherwise be difficult to verbalise. I will only use creative therapy if a client feels comfortable to do so. Creative therapy helps clients self-express in ways they never thought could be possible. Experience or skill in art is not required, as your work will not be criticised – it is more about the emotions expressed and felt throughout the process.
Solution focussed Therapy or brief therapy
This approach predominantly looks at what the individual wants to achieve rather than historical problems. Questions will be asked to help a client uncover their own strengths and resources. Solution-focused therapy can be especially helpful to those who are goal-orientated and have a desire to change.