The Humanist Integrative Therapy approach is such because it aims to integrate schools of psychotherapy which have been competing against each other historically. This battle of schools is transcended by accepting the valuable theories which they have delivered, and using intervention tools derived from all of them.
At a theoretical level, HIP can be summarized in the following statements:
- Socio-constructionist epistemology: Critical realism as theory of knowledge. People build constructs to understand the world and then contrast the validity of their constructs. A person suffering from the limitations of their thinking patterns (constructs) can change them so that they are more flexible, adaptive and consistent with their life. Cognitive and emotional restructuring are achieved by re-writing some of these constructs. This is a core aspect of modern CBT, RET and Narrative approaches.
- Systemic conception of reality and relationships: A person is a system (bodily, affect, cognitive, relational) integrated in broader social systems. The relational patterns with other significant people (partner, friends, family, colleagues) are a fundamental aspect of understanding a person’s emotional troubles and finding healthier solutions.
- Psycho-dynamic theory of personality evolution: People tend to have old repressed inner conflicts which are subconscious, often hidden within defensive mechanisms which repeat themselves over and over. As Jungian analysis states, there is a great benefit to exploring the shadow sides of personality, in both it´s negative and positive aspects. Often core aspects of these problems are in deeply rooted layers of the body and psyche. Therapy helps the person surface them safely to their conscious realm through the use of symbolizing tools such as art therapy, writing, body movement, dream work etc. Energy blocs and somatisations are also addressed to ensure that these deep conflicts are liberated and thus the person can recover full vitality.
- Existential framework for the “big picture”: Every person is confronted with existential challenges such as freedom, solitude, death, life meaning. Therapy can help a person clarify their current position and change it at will. It is a process of recovering power, responsibility and choice. The aim is to take decisions and design one’s long term life projects which are consistent with the person’s true values and spiritual beliefs.