Integrative Therapy

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams, LPC, CCTP
Updated May 2, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Many individuals seek therapeutic guidance to manage the challenges of life and address symptoms associated with a mental disorder or mental health conditions. If you are seeking therapy, you may have noticed several types of theoretical approaches that psychologists and therapists use. One such approach is integrative therapy.

How does integrative therapy work?
Studies have found that clinicians use over 400 varieties of psychotherapy in their practices, and no single approach is effective for every condition. To bridge the gaps between these therapies, professionals in the field have developed an integrative approach to psychotherapy - integrative therapy. This form of therapy often combines aspects of different psychotherapeutic models and psychotherapy approaches to ensure the most personalized and effective treatment.

What is integrative therapy?

Integrative therapy works by combining theoretical orientation approaches, psychological theories, and interventions to the different needs of different patients. Psychotherapy has been shaped by various historical, sociopolitical, philosophical, cultural, spiritual beliefs, and gender-affirming worldviews and global events since its inception, causing a wide variety of options for clients seeking counseling. The evolution of the field of psychotherapy has been shaped by several paradigms, including: 

  • Psychoanalytic
  • Behavioral 
  • Humanistic-existential 
  • Transpersonal 
  • Multiculturalism 
  • Family systems therapy
  • Ecopsychology
  • Music therapy
  • Social constructivism and social justice
  • Client advocacy

Integrative therapies aim to fuse multiple models of these paradigms holistically to meet their clients' unique needs, tailoring psychotherapy to the individual patient as their psychotherapy relationships grow. It often focuses on integrating aspects of multiple techniques and adapting and adjusting to the needs of the individual client in a way that is distinct from other therapies. It offers flexibility and focuses on an individual. For example, a therapist might start off with a humanistic approach but switch to a cognitive approach as they learn more and their therapeutic relationship grows. 

Integrative therapy can be suitable for all ages, including adults, adolescents, and children at different stages of development. It can also be used in group and individual settings, and a therapist may use many psychological relationships and different approaches before determining one primary approach for a given client. 

Starting counseling

Integrative therapy employs a unique approach and tools suited to you and your goals. During psychotherapy integration, your therapist or mental health professional might ask you the following types of questions: 

  • What makes you unique?  
  • Do you prefer a specific approach to psychotherapy?
  • How can a therapist support you in your goals? 
  • What needs do you have that you consider unfulfilled? 
  • Do you have preferences for the type of therapist you work with? 
  • What coping skills have you utilized in the past? 
  • Were your past coping skills effective?
  • Have you ever tried psychotherapy before? 

After understanding your history and life challenges, taking symptoms, and discussing your goals and self-help skills, your therapist can work with you to develop a treatment plan based on several therapeutic techniques or effective psychotherapy modalities designed to maximize treatment effectiveness. 

Integrative vs. eclectic treatment 

Integrative therapy and eclectic therapy/eclectic theory are often used interchangeably, but according to the American Psychological Association, the methods can differ slightly. An eclectic approach to psychotherapy may indicate knowledge of multiple aspects of therapeutic approaches or interventions that the therapist can use throughout treatment. In an integrative approach, a therapist may carefully select complementary approaches and interventions to create a model for long-term treatment. However, both types of therapists may change their approach if needed throughout sessions. 

Each person is unique, and one method will not necessarily be the best for everyone. Instead, integrative therapy depends on the person receiving it, and these techniques may allow therapists to personalize their practice while remaining flexible and inclusive of a particular client and their needs. Many psychotherapists may call themselves integrative therapists because they do not identify with only one model or specific methods and instead use combined psychotherapeutic approaches and interventions.


Finding a therapist

Many therapists may offer an integrated approach and use evidence-based practice from an integrative perspective, even if it isn't advertised on their website. When looking for a counselor, ask them about their approach to treatment. You can also ask if they offer this type of therapy or ask for information on their educational background, skills, and goals for treatment. 

Many therapists may include the types of psychotherapy they practice on their website or bio through a platform. You can also read past client reviews to ensure patients had positive experiences and view their treatment in a positive regard. When considering a provider, note that therapists within the US must maintain a license to practice. A credible therapist can be open to discussing their license, background, education, and psychological approaches with you. 

The process

Below are a couple of different techniques and aspects that you might face in integrative therapy. 

Counseling modalities

An integrative therapist may use several techniques and theoretical orientations to practice this type of therapy, including modalities such as cognitive analytic psychotherapy or interpersonal psychotherapy. For example,cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a standard treatment for various mental health concerns. CBT can often be paired with other types of psychotherapy, like exposure psychotherapy, making it a popular choice for integrative psychotherapy. This type of psychotherapy identifies the thoughts and beliefs that may lead to unhelpful behaviors for clients. Through specific strategies, the therapist can challenge the client to rephrase their unhelpful beliefs or thoughts and practice healthier behavioral skills. 

A look at various aspects of life 

An integrative therapist in integrative therapy may also examine your concerns through various lenses. For example, these therapists may look at depression as a combination of childhood attachment lessons, current relationship conflicts, and skills in the present moment. The provider can then treat each concern with a psychotherapy modality or technique specific to treating it, potentially using multiple approaches through a process called theoretical integration. As clinical psychology professionals, it is their job to determine an approach and ensure you benefit from the techniques utilized.

How does integrative therapy work?

Online counseling options 

There are several ways to find a therapist for integrative counseling or talk therapy. However, many clients face barriers to finding in-person support due to cost, distance, or scheduling. In these cases, integrative therapy may also be found online, offering a modern form of treatment unique to each individual. Online psychotherapy can address the same symptoms or concerns as in-person therapy and is often more affordable, convenient, and flexible. You can choose between phone, video, and live chat sessions with your therapist.  

In one study of integrative online treatment for depression, research shows web-based psychotherapy was especially beneficial to those unable to afford the cost of in-person treatment through a combination of therapeutic approaches. Through a platform like BetterHelp, you can find therapists specializing in various approaches and express your interest in integrative therapy. With over 30,000 therapists on the platform, you can be matched with someone meeting your preferences within 24 to 48 hours of signing up.


Integrative therapy addresses each client's unique symptoms, concerns, and goals and allows therapists to use aspects of several treatment approaches for each. If you're interested in learning how this treatment format might benefit you, consider reaching out to a therapist for further guidance.
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