Integration in Psychotherapy

Over the past century there has been a great proliferation of approaches to psychotherapy. Each school elaborates its own theory and practice, its own concepts and assumptions, and in its own language. The terrain of psychotherapy is a patchwork of fields separated by impenetrable hedges. Each school of thought is in competition with the others but at the same time acting as if the others were not there. Each is unintelligible to the others without a dedicated effort of translation and understanding. It is very unlikely then that real advances in the art and science of psychotherapy can spread beyond the schools where they are made.

In any other field we might expect to see competing theories and practices, it is true, but we would also feel that unity was being approached stepwise as the whole field moved conscientiously and cooperatively in the direction of truth.

I do not count the effort at integration, where psychotherapy and counselling courses lump together a few of the separate traditions, perhaps hoping that the students themselves will synthesise something useful. The Integrative students I have met for the most part think that they have been given a bundle of distinct tools, that they can select from. There is no integration here.

And indeed given the sheer number of distinct traditions, it would take millennia of each talking and listening to each before common platforms could emerge.

There is a better way. By rising above the field onto a philosophical plane we could establish the parameters of a genuine advance in psychotherapy. Fundamental to this undertaking is the need to establish a clear view of human nature in its connection with the world. It would need to be able to distinguish from each other both the apithology and pathology of the soul. This is what this series of postings hopes to contribute to.

It could be objected that theory is not as important as the practice of psychotherapy. And it is quite likely that experienced and wiser psychotherapists will resemble each other over time and learn to see beyond the limitations of theory. But theory whispers so seductively and so insistently into our ears as we practice. And if the theory misleads us, is not our practice in jeopardy?

About Harry Dowling

Born 1946 in Liverpool
This entry was posted in Integration, Philosophy, Psychotherapy, Theory and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Integration in Psychotherapy

  1. Good blog site. As a psychotherapist I appreciated reading and hearing other therapists experiences. Keep posting

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