Integrative therapy is a term which is most commonly used to refer to integrative psychotherapy, in which several different therapeutic techniques are used to address a patient's psychological issues. This term may also reference integrative approaches to physical therapy, bodywork, and medicine. Practitioners who offer integrative therapy have a broad field of knowledge to draw upon, which usually requires extensive training.
The key idea behind integrative therapy is that each individual person is unique and distinctive, which means that a one size fits all approach to therapy will not be effective, whether the therapy is intended to help someone recover physically from a car accident, or emotionally from a traumatic event. Practitioners who utilize integrative therapy can develop a program which has been designed specifically for the patient's unique needs, addressing peculiarities of the patient's personality and situation rather than providing generic treatment which may be less effective.
In integrative psychotherapy, any number of techniques can be used, ranging from Freudian psychoanalysis to group therapy. Psychotherapy is a vast and very diverse field, with many approaches to treatment and many different schools of thought, and integrative therapy is designed to draw from the most suitable approaches for a patient, with the therapist integrating aspects of various approaches which he or she thinks will be beneficial. For example, a therapist might use art therapy and group therapy with a young child, using the art to get the child engaging and talking, and the group therapy to provide support from peers for the child.
Physical therapy can also include an integrative approach. Integrative physical therapy may include reliance on traditional physical therapy methods such as weight training and occupational therapy techniques, along with less conventional approaches, like bodywork to tone muscles, or acupuncture to release tension. Because every body is different, integrating multiple techniques into a physical therapy program can be very beneficial for the patient.
Bodywork may be integrative in nature, with a practitioner using several techniques over the course of a session, such as traditional Swedish massage, reflexology, and shiatsu to address various issues. Many schools of bodywork offer classes in a wide range of modalities which allow practitioners to acquire a broad set of skills which can be used in integrative bodywork, or to focus on specific areas of interest, depending on the taste of the practitioner.
Integrative medicine, sometimes referred to as integrative therapy, utilizes both conventional and alternative approaches to health and wellness, with the goal of promoting health in the whole body.