Some situations which involve patient treatment may require the integration of different psychotherapeutic areas and this is called integration therapy. Besides combining different methods to achieve the goals, integration therapy may also mean the personality integration, making it more cohesive, as well as improving the communication and manifestations of the fours systems of a person: affective, behavioral, cognitive and physiological.
There are some differences between the integration therapy and eclecticism, as reflected by Woolfe and Palmer in one of their books in 1999. They say that integration refers to better combining the parts of a single system in a singular theoretical and practical approach, while the eclectic psychotherapy tries to combine elements of different approaches in order to set up a new one for a specific case.
The practitioners of eclectic psychotherapy are not functionally based on a particular dogma, nor do they have a pre-established methodology. They are guided by their own feelings and intuition in every case they get involved and also make use of their experience in finding what the best approach or combination of approaches would work best in that specific case in order to satisfy the needs of the client and bring resolution to whatever problems he or she might have.
There have been identified four methods of accomplishing the integration, depicted in the works of Goldfried and Norcross in 2005 – The Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration: theoretical integration, common factors, assimilative integration and technical eclecticism.
The theoretical integration is based on the idea that the combined therapies can lead to better results that each of those therapies applied alone, as suggested by Norcross in 2005. One approach of the theoretical integration aims to combine and synthesize fewer therapies, but at a deeper level, while another tries to describe the relationships between a larger number of psychotherapeutic systems. Some examples of theoretical integration are the Cyclical Psychodynamics model of Paul Wachtel and the Cognitive Analytical Therapy model of Anthony Ryle. The latter uses and integrates ideas from the cognitive therapy and the object-relations therapy. However, maybe the most important model in this area is the Trans-theoretical model of DiClemente and Prochaska.
The common factors approach is another integration route which tries to identify and explain the elements that different therapeutic approaches have in common, as defined by Norcross in 2005. The big advantage of this route is that it is based on therapeutic techniques that have been proven to be efficient and lead to good results.
The assimilative integration can target any system of psychotherapy that is open and willing to incorporate elements from other therapies as well, besides the grounds that it has already established. This emphasizes the fact that a lot of therapists chose their main direction, but then borrow and integrate ingredients from other techniques, in order to improve efficiency.
The technical eclecticism is the third route to integration and aims to improve the therapists’ ability to select the best method for solving the patients’ problems, based on precise information about what methods worked best in the past and lead to the best results.