Combining techniques, the integrative counselling approach

This month I thought I would explore the concept of the integrative counsellor approach. In brief that means, for me, working as a counsellor who has had training in more than one modality or therapy technique who combines those techniques to help the client achieve their therapy goals in the best way possible for the client.

An example of this would be to combine CBT, Mindfulness and Person Centred therapy together. In this example I am going to use anger and road-rage as it is one that is simple enough for most people to empathise with in some way.

Person A comes to therapy in order to deal with their anger, the therapist uses person centred talking skills to help the client feel safe, understood, accepted and cared for, allowing the client to open up about their understanding of their anger and their feelings about their anger, allowing the person to self-actualise and accept their issues. This is where the counsellor may then use the CBT triangle about thoughts, behaviours and feeling, exploring in these terms what the client has realised. That they are able to recognise the angry feeling, the thought behind that feeling and the behaviour they automatically associate with it. The therapist may then use the Mindfulness STOP technique to help the client recognise and alter the values in the CBT triangle thus assisting the client to change their behaviour.

For example Mindfulness:

S – Stop
T –  Take a breath, relax
O – Observe – I am feeling angry, I understand my thoughts behind my anger are X Y Z (found via previous person centred discussion).
P – I am choosing to proceed differently from my normal behaviour which would be shouting and beeping my horn, by replacing the fear and anger with calm, acceptance I am still safe and alive and anger is not helpful to me, or by singing (this technique can vary based on the client and the explorations made with the client in person centred discussion)

For example CBT Triangle:

                                                            Feeling – Anger/Fear

Behaviour – shouting, beeping horn                                        Thought – that person is rude, I nearly died

Thus in conclusion the therapist has used 3 different modalities to help the client achieve a deeper understanding of self and to adjust their behaviours in conjunction with this new understanding. This is just one very basically explained example and integrative therapy can be deeper and more complex that I have shown here, often using multiple modalities that are combined and sometimes difficult to separate as easily as I have here.

If you are struggling and would like intergrative support with mental health issues or you’d like video, telephone or face to face counselling in the Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme or Staffordshire area please do contact Wright Minds at or on 07598810304