• There are many different types of therapy – how do you know which is right for you?

  • Psychotherapist Laurent Baldoni why integrative therapy – which combines methods from a range of different schools – can be beneficial

  • We have integrative therapists available to support you here

Finding the right therapist and approach can be a minefield. When seeking therapy we tend to feel fragile, sensitive or overwhelmed…so how are we meant to sift through nearly 500 therapeutic theories to find what will work best? 

The good news is, you certainly don’t need to understand them all. Some simple research can help to get a broad understanding of the main areas of therapy available. Integrative therapy can be useful given the way it works, namely gearing the exact approach to the client and their specific needs.

What is integrative therapy?

Integrative therapy is a flexible and progressive form of psychotherapy in which the exact method is tailored to each specific client. It is a pragmatic, solution-based approach which combines different therapeutic tools and approaches to fit the precise needs of the individual client in order to get the best results.

Clearly we are all different, so it stands to reason that what might work for one person, might well not work for another. Furthermore, we are not the same from week-to-week. Integrative therapy emphasises focusing on the specific person in front of us, and determining what best serves them, in each moment. This means not only understanding and paying attention to each client, but also noticing and respecting what each client needs from session-to-session.

If you are facing a general sense of unease, unhappiness, low self-esteem, anxiety or depression one idea might be to look for someone who has a broader range of skills and approaches which puts them in a better position to tackle a wide range of problems and clients. That being said, integrative therapy has also proved to be very helpful for more precise or longer-term issues from relationships, bereavement and anger management to abuse and trauma or substance abuse and addiction.

It brings together the emotional, cognitive, behavioural and physiological systems within a person, while also considering the social and transpersonal aspects of their lives. It can draw on a wide range of approaches, including but not limited to: psychodynamic theory, psychoanalytical psychology, client-centred counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), family therapy, Gestalt, transactional analysis (TA) and mindfulness.

Some of the most common areas we might cover include developing self-awareness, authenticity, responsibility, as well as emotional maturity and stability to gain a more balanced perspective on things. 

We could examine topics such as conditions of worth, unfinished business, negative automatic thoughts and cognitive flexibility, and delve into defence mechanisms like the fight or flight reflex, denial, projection, avoidance or explore the concept of self-sabotage. 

We would likely look into how we often see our present life through the prism of past pain.

Tips for finding the right therapist

The connection with the therapist is key as you will often need to open up about difficult or sensitive moments in order to heal and progress. The ‘right’ approach won’t work if there isn´t the right trust, connection and rapport with the therapist. 

Therapists must communicate openly and warmly even when pointing out areas for your growth. A good therapist is honest and genuine, demonstrating knowledge but not coming across as a know-it-all. They will value you and believe in your own ability to progress rather than viewing you as broken or dependent on them.

Ask around. A personal recommendation from someone who has experience of therapy is a solid start. You can also ask your GP. Perhaps look for therapists who offer a free intro session or brief initial phone call. This gives you a chance to get a feel for the therapist before moving forward, and all without having to spend your hard-earned money. 

Do some background research and look for people with their own website who go into detail about who they are, how they work and that clarify their credentials. Make sure they are members of a professional association with a code of ethics, as they are here on Welldoing.

If you find yourself jumping from one person another, often questioning the worth or benefit of many different therapists and their theories, remember that the answer might lay within you! Even once people have made the brave decision to go to therapy, there is often another part of them (sometimes subconsciously) resisting the very process that could well help them reach their goals. This should not be feared. Once we understand where and why the resistance presents, we are often approaching the key area where the work needs to be done.

Laurent Baldoni is a verified Welldoing online psychotherapist

Further reading

Can cognitive therapy get to the root of the problem?

What is transpersonal psychotherapy?

Myths and misconceptions about hypnotherapy

What is transactional analysis?

The key principles of existential therapy