Pros And Cons Of The Eclectic Approach To Therapy

Updated October 4, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If you're thinking of beginning therapy or are on the search for a new therapist, you might want to consider finding a therapist who uses the eclectic approach. So, what is the eclectic approach, and what are its strengths and weaknesses? Is the eclectic approach and its theoretical orientation right for you? This article will explore the answers to these questions.

Eclectic Therapy Isn't For Everyone - But Could It Be For You?

Basically, eclectic therapy (also known as multi modal therapy) means adapting the therapeutic approach to the client's specific needs and involves using several theories of psychology that might work best for that particular client and their circumstances, or a mixture of many techniques. In other words, instead of focusing just on one treatment approach, eclecticism adheres to several theories and ideas in order to help the client.  While other modes of therapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy) have been gaining in popularity in recent years, even those who specialize in these other approaches commonly use an eclectic or integrative approach whenever it provides advantages.

Like all other reputable medical fields, psychotherapy relies on evidence-based practice (EBP) by using evidence-based techniques (EBT). Evidence-based means that the therapy used for any mental health issue or disorder has been proven in scientific studies to work for that issue or disorder. Eclectic therapy is an evidence-based approach.

Furthermore, eclecticism has been crucial in helping clients in other industries. For example, language teachers and martial arts instructors will use this conceptual approach to teach a wide variety of learners with great success.

Eclectic Approach Vs Specialty Approach In Therapy

Long ago, each psychologist stuck to one school of psychotherapy. Everyone following that school used the same theories, the same techniques, and the same style of therapy. Currently, there are still some therapists who practice only one type of therapy. Some therapists only practice cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, desensitization psychology, or humanistic therapy, to name a few. An eclectic therapist may use two or more of these techniques.

Is It Possible To Have A Specialty And Still Use An Eclectic Approach?

The truth is that most therapists practice the eclectic approach and ideas, even if they identify as a specialist in one type of therapy. Therapists who specialize typically have an area of focus but also use other techniques in certain situations to provide more tailored help.

Pros Of Eclectic Approach Psychology

Consider the following reasons why an eclectic therapist might be right for you.

Personalized Therapy Tailored To Your Needs. With eclectic therapy, the goal is to use the specific type of therapy that's right for you. A therapist practicing an eclectic approach tailors each part of the therapeutic experience to your specific needs, choosing the type, style, and techniques that work best for you to help solve problem in your life.

Different Methods For Different Issues. Since an eclectic approach to psychotherapy is one that uses several different types of therapy as needed, it works well for people who have more than one issue. Many people start therapy with several different issues that they want to deal with, and the therapist may use different types of therapy for each of those issues. For example, if you want to conquer a phobia but also want to address generalized anxiety, the therapist might use a desensitization technique for the phobia and mindfulness-based therapy to help with the anxiety.

Approach The Same Problem From Different Angles. An eclectic therapist can also use different therapies to help you deal with one difficult problem. For example, say you went into therapy because you felt like you were failing as a parent. The eclectic therapist might use several different methods to help you with that problem and provide solutions. If you're feeling anxiety regarding being a parent, they might teach you relaxation techniques and use art therapy or the 'empty chair' technique to help you express your feelings about the situation. They might use cognitive behavioral therapy to help you change your thoughts about how to be a good parent so that you can change your behavior. This combination of techniques is what makes the eclectic approach so versatile.

Increases Engagement In Therapy. Sticking with one type of therapy to solve a complex problem can be grueling and, quite honestly, boring for some people. You might even get to the point where you dread going to therapy, feeling you already know what's going to happen there. When a therapist uses the eclectic approach, you get more fresh experiences in therapy sessions. Therapy can be more exciting, and it can help you stay alert and engaged.

Eclectic Therapy Isn't For Everyone - But Could It Be For You?

Cons Of The Eclectic Approach

Eclectic therapy isn't always right for everyone with every type of problem. Perhaps eclectic therapy worked well for your friend who has depression, but doesn’t work for you even though you also have depression. When you're considering starting therapy, it makes sense to look at both sides of this issue before you select a therapist. So what are the possible downsides of the eclectic approach?

Requires A Highly Skilled Therapist. Getting therapy from a counselor who isn't highly skilled is never a good idea. It's even worse with eclectic-approach psychology practitioners. Eclectic therapy demands the therapist is well-trained in not just one but many different types, styles, and techniques. A therapist with poor skills might turn their eclectic therapy style into a trial-and-error project, leading you down many paths but never concluding any of them. They might not use the therapies that are right for you, but instead, choose whatever therapy comes to mind. It's important to know that your therapist is licensed and knowledgeable.

Can Seem Confusing. When an eclectic therapist moves too quickly from one type of therapy to another, you might feel confused about what's happening in your sessions. A skilled therapist can eliminate that confusion by sharing at the end of one therapy session what you'll be doing in the next session, explain it briefly, and ask if you have any questions. Then, when you return, they can remind you what's going to happen.

Sticking To One Type Of Therapy Might Be Better For Certain Problems. What if you only have one problem you want to address through therapy rather than multiple? Depending on the problem, one specific type of therapy might be the best for all parts of your therapy. People with borderline personality disorder, for example, typically do very well with just dialectical behavior therapy. DBT covers so many different aspects of this disorder that there might not be any need for other therapies. If you have PTSD or a phobia, desensitization techniques might give you the relief you need. Still, the therapist may focus on these techniques but bring in others as well.

How To Find A Therapist Who Uses The Eclectic Approach

Finding a therapist is easy, but the search for a therapist that is best for you can be more difficult. Fortunately, if you would like a therapist who uses the eclectic approach, you'll probably have many to choose from. If you look for an online eclectic therapist, you'll have thousands to choose from that you can talk to from wherever you are. So what's the best way to identify an eclectic therapist? Here are some avenues to explore.

A recent study found that 98% of BetterHelp users prefer it to face-to-face therapy and 94% showing significant improvement in their mental health and overall wellbeing. Interestingly, in a University of Zurich study, 96% of online therapy clients reviewed their interactions with their therapist as “personal,” as opposed to only 91% clients utilizing in-person therapy.

The online therapy experience is highly personalized – you start by completing a quick questionnaire, then describe what you’re seeking from therapy, and you’ll be matched with a certified therapist. You can chat to determine if they’re a good fit or if you’d prefer a different therapist. Sessions are also personalized, and can be conducted via video chatting, instant messaging, text, live voice recordings, phone calls, or any combination thereof. Below you’ll find reviews of some of our licensed therapists from people who were helped using a variety of therapy techniques.

“Jennifer is a therapist of high quality. She is knowledgeable of many different techniques and theories. I'm very satisfied with her kind approach to me and my needs. I feel like I can improve with her as my therapist.”

Megan has been absolutely incredible! She is very competent at different therapy approaches and tailors our sessions (approaches or worksheets) to what works best for me and my style of doing things. She has been pivotal in my ability to come back from the mental pits, continuing to perform the way I need in my professional and personal life, and in understanding myself better. It’s relieving to know I have therapy days with her and feel more confident after each session. I highly, HIGHLY recommend Megan!”

Eclectic Therapy Isn't For Everyone - But Could It Be For You?

What If I'm Beginning Therapy For The First Time?

If you're new to therapy and don't know much about how it works, the best thing to do is spend some time researching the therapists you're considering. When you find the one you think is right for you, you can discuss it further with them at your intake interview.

Initial Research

For the initial research, check online for each therapist's credentials and specialties. When you look for a therapist, you can find out about their main specialty or specialties on their profile page.

Choose the therapists who sound best to you. Then contact those therapists and ask them if they ever use different types of therapy besides their main specialty. It's best to avoid the term 'eclectic approach' when having this discussion because many therapists prefer to characterize their practice differently. However, by asking how many different types of therapy they practice, you're essentially answering this question. Choose one therapist and set up the first appointment.

What If I'm Not Satisfied With My Current Therapist's Approach?

Suppose you're going to therapy and seeing no progress. Maybe you would like your therapist to use a more eclectic approach with techniques and styles of therapy that suit you better. Your current therapist may consider using methods they have never used with you before. Still, in most cases, the therapist is already using the techniques they consider best for you.

However, just because you're already seeing a therapist, it doesn't mean you have to stick with them no matter what. If you've been in therapy long and haven't at least felt some sense of relief and hope, it might be time to move on to a therapist whose therapeutic approach suits you better. Follow the same steps you would if you were starting therapy for the first time. Since you have some experience with being in therapy, you'll have a better sense of what to ask and how to ask it.

An eclectic approach to therapy may be just what you need to resolve your mental health issues in the quickest, most complete way possible!

More Solutions

In addition to therapy, there are some things you can do at home to help yourself.

Journaling is a cheap and easy way to express your feelings. When you write things down, you might gain a deeper understanding of your problems. This will help you be more productive in therapy overall.

Exercise is a great way to keep your mind fit. Get thirty minutes a day for maximum mental health benefits!

Meditation can help you connect with your deepest thoughts and emotions. This could unlock new information that could help in therapy.

How BetterHelp Can Help

You can find out more when you have your first therapy session with your new therapist. Although changing therapists locally can be a hassle, you might find it worth your time if you don't feel the therapist is a good fit for you. The good news is that when you choose online therapy at BetterHelp, the search for a new therapist is easy. And since you don't have to rely on insurance to keep your costs low, you don't have to worry about satisfying an insurance company's requirements for a new therapist.


There are many pros and cons to the eclectic approach to therapy. Whether or not this method is right for you will depend on you and your circumstances. Once you decide what route to choose, your mental health will be greatly improved by seeing a therapist. You can get through any of life's challenges with the right tools.

For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started