Integrative counselling embraces an attitude towards the practice of counselling that affirms the inherent value of each individual. It is a unifying therapy that responds appropriately and effectively to the person at the affective, behavioural, cognitive, and physiological levels of functioning and addresses as well the spiritual dimension of life.
The term "integrative" of Integrative counselling has a number of meanings. It refers to the process of integrating the personality: taking disowned, unaware, or unresolved aspects of the self and making them part of a cohesive personality, reducing the use of defence mechanisms that inhibit spontaneity and limit flexibility in problem solving, health maintenance, and relating to people, and re-engaging the world with full contact. It is the process of making whole. Through integration, it becomes possible for people to face each moment openly and freshly without the protection of a pre-formed opinion, position, attitude, or expectation.
Integrative counselling also refers to the bringing together of the affective, cognitive, behavioural, and physiological systems within a person, with an awareness of the social and transpersonal aspects of the systems surrounding the person. These concepts are utilised within a perspective of human development in which each phase of life presents heightened developmental tasks, need sensitivities, crises, and opportunities for new learning.
Integrative counselling takes into account many views of human functioning. The psychodynamic, person-centred, behaviourist, cognitive, relationship therapy, gestalt therapy, object relations theories, psychoanalytic self-psychology, and transactional analysis approaches are all considered within a dynamic systems perspective. Each provides a partial explanation of behaviour and each is enhanced when selectively integrated with other aspects of the therapist’s approach.