What is integrated psychological therapy?
Integrated psychological therapy is a time-limited, focused, talking therapy. Using a range of psychological approaches, the therapist and client work together to identify and understand the problems they are experiencing, including:
- what triggered them
- what is maintaining them
- ways to move forward.
Who is it for?
Integrated psychological therapy is safe and user friendly. It is suitable for use in a variety of settings and in the treatment of many conditions and illnesses, for example:
- eating problems,
- self harm
- personal and relationship problems.
What preparation is needed?
None – but it may help to think through what you feel your main difficulties are and what you hope to gain from therapy before you start. You also need to be able to make a commitment to attend regular weekly appointments.
What happens at the first appointment?
The therapist will talk with you about your reasons for seeking therapy and explain more about the integrated approach. The initial assessment session allows you and your therapist to see if the approach is suitable for you, if you are happy to work together, and to answer any questions you may have about the therapy.
What does the therapy involve?
In the initial sessions the therapist will ask you questions about your past life and background. Although integrated psychological therapy concentrates on the here and now, at times you may need to talk about the past to understand how it is affecting you now.
You will then make collaborative goals that you wish to work on in the short, medium and long term. Together you will develop a shared understanding of the identified problem. You and the therapist will usually start each session by agreeing on what to discuss that day. This will include highlighting any areas of difficulty you have encountered during the week and identifying useful strategies to challenge these in the future.
The strength of integrated psychological therapy is that you can continue to practise and develop your skills each week after the sessions have finished. This makes it less likely that your symptoms or problems will return.
How long does it last?
You will usually meet with a therapist for between five and 20 sessions. These will usually be held on a weekly basis. Each session will last between 50 and 60 minutes.
What are the benefits?
Skills you learn in integrated psychological therapy are useful, practical and helpful strategies that can be incorporated into everyday life. They will help you to cope better with future stresses and difficulties, even after the treatment has finished.
What are the risks?
As with any talking therapy, focusing on your problems may make you feel worse before you feel better. Talking therapy can sometimes affect your relationships with your friends and family in negative as well as positive ways, especially if you are making changes that others do not like.
The Department of Health booklet, “Choosing Talking Therapies?” gives a useful guide to talking therapies and the risks involved.
What are the alternatives?
There is a range of alternative psychological therapies which include:
- interpersonal therapy
- cognitive behavioural therapy
- cognitive analytic therapy
- psychodynamic and psychoanalytic therapy.
It may be useful to read the information leaflets available to help you decide which approach may be best suited to your needs.
How to be referred
You can discuss possible referral for integrated psychological therapy with your care coordinator, mental health worker or doctor.
Copies of letters and reports
Recent Department of Health guidance states that you have a right to receive copies of letters and reports sent by us to your referrer and your GP.
If you wish to receive these, please let us know when you come for your first appointment or at any subsequent time.