If you are considering training as a psychotherapist, you might feel overwhelmed by all the different clinical approaches available and unsure which one might suit you best.
Interestingly enough, research shows that it’s the quality of the therapeutic relationship rather than the specific approach that supports a client’s healing process (Wampold & Imel, 2015).
As such, an integrative approach to psychotherapy is increasingly applied by the vast majority of practicing psychotherapists who draw on a range of clinical perspectives and tools based on their specific client’s needs (Zarbo et al., 2016).
This article explains how to become an integrative therapist, shares integrative therapy training options, and lists the best books to guide you on this approach.
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There are multiple pathways to becoming an integrative therapist. The right one for you depends largely on your existing qualifications, clinical experience, country of residence, and your country’s professional licensing regulations.
The widest range of professional training programs in integrative therapy are available in the United Kingdom, where the approach has really taken off. Integrative therapy training programs include those aimed at undergraduates seeking bachelor’s degrees or graduates seeking master’s degrees or diploma programs.
Some institutions require applicants to attend preparation or orientation courses as prerequisites to application. Programs offered by universities are open to UK and international applicants.
In the United States, the situation is very different, as psychotherapy integration is taught as a set of clinical skills to licensed counseling and psychotherapy practitioners from a person-centered or humanistic background.
These programs and workshops equip experienced psychotherapists with the theoretical skills to synthesize different approaches and adopt an integrative approach (Feixas & Botella, 2004). One pioneer of the approach, psychologist Richard Erskine, explains more in the video below.
What is Integrative Psychotherapy?
10 Best Training Options
The following 10 campus-based programs may also contain some blended learning options with optional online components. Please visit each program’s website to discover more. These integrative therapy training programs have been chosen for their outstanding professional standards in this rapidly evolving approach to psychotherapy.
Check each training program’s English language proficiency requirements if you are applying as a non-native English speaker. Following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, overseas applicants to UK institutions should check whether their chosen training provider can accept overseas applicants. Various funding opportunities are detailed on each site.
1. Pacifica Graduate Institute, California, US
Pacifica Graduate Institute offers a doctoral program (PhD) in depth psychology with a specialization in integrative therapy and healing practices.
Graduates of clinical disciplines and licensed counseling or psychotherapy practitioners are eligible to apply.
The program comprises 2.5 years of coursework followed by the research and writing of a dissertation focused on the student’s focus of interest. The doctoral dissertation has to be defended during an oral examination to show that it is the student’s original contribution to knowledge.
Students attend three weekend residential sessions on campus each quarter for their first year of the course. In years two and three, five-day residential sessions take place once a quarter from Monday to Friday. Additional online learning is also delivered throughout the program.
Both US citizens and international students are eligible to apply. Find out more by visiting their website and by taking a look at the video below.
Ph.D. in Depth Psychology with Specialization in Integrative Therapy and Healing Practices
2. Metanoia Institute, London, UK
Metanoia Institute offers a range of undergraduate and graduate counseling and psychotherapy training programs on campus in Ealing, London.
Middlesex University awards their degree and diploma programs, and their MSc in integrative psychotherapy training program is United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) approved.
The MSc program does not teach a specific model of integration but supports trainees in integrating theories, tools, and competencies from several traditions into their own evolving model. This requires trainees to maintain an openness to different approaches even when they may appear contradictory and not foreclose on a particular point of view.
Both EU and UK residents are eligible to apply, but EU students are required to travel in and out of the United Kingdom for the campus-based course components. There are specific requirements for finding suitable clinical placements inside the European Union. You can discover more by visiting the program’s webpage.
3. Regent’s University College, London, UK
Regent’s University is situated in Regent’s Park, London, and offers a postgraduate certificate in integrative psychotherapy that leads to UKCP registration in the humanistic and integrative section.
If you have completed the MA in psychotherapy and counseling (integrative pathway), which takes three years, you can then take the certificate. Other applications are each assessed based on their individual merits.
Teaching takes place on campus one day a week and includes academic seminars, experiential exercises, training supervision, and personal and professional development.
Both UK and international students are eligible to apply. You can discover more by visiting the program website.
4. Sherwood Psychotherapy Training Institute, Nottingham, UK
The Sherwood Psychotherapy Training Institute (SPTI) is located in Nottingham, England, and offers both an undergraduate and graduate degree pathway to qualifying as an integrative therapist.
Their BSc (hons.) in counseling and psychotherapy provides students with a sound knowledge of the theory and practice of humanistic and integrative counseling and psychotherapy.
Students need to commit to their personal growth and professional development while acquiring the clinical skills required for safe and ethical practice. Graduates are awarded their degree by Staffordshire University and are eligible for professional membership of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
Graduates of other programs are eligible to apply for the MSc in integrative psychotherapy, which is also awarded by Staffordshire University. The program takes four years to complete and includes an introductory year that is purely academic and theory-based.
Psychotherapy trainees are then required to secure suitable clinical placements. SPTI holds a database of placement providers and actively supports trainees in their placement search. Graduates are eligible for professional membership of the UKCP.
Importantly, the SPTI can only accept students and trainees who are eligible to study as home fee-paying students in the United Kingdom and has no ability to offer student visas to non-UK/Irish residents.
5. University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK
The University of Central Lancashire in Preston, England, offers a postgraduate diploma and MA in integrative psychotherapy that blends person-centered, psychodynamic, and existential theories of human development to inform students’ integrative therapy training practice.
The program is campus-based, with the diploma taking two years and the MA taking three years to complete. Graduates with either qualification are eligible for professional membership in the BACP.
As this is a university course, UK and overseas applicants are eligible for admission.
The University of Roehampton in London offers an MA in integrative counseling and psychotherapy.
Applicants require an honors degree class 2:2 or above, plus a level-two counseling skills qualification or equivalent. However, this can be completed after acceptance as a condition of admission.
In addition, applicants need experience working in a helping role that requires counseling skills, like active listening and offering emotional support, for at least six months prior to application. This can be a voluntary or paid role.
Graduates are eligible for professional registration with BACP. UK and international applicants are eligible for admission. For further information, visit the course webpage.
7. European Association for Integrative Psychotherapy (EAIP)
For those seeking integrative therapy training in Europe, the EAIP provides a list of member organizations, some of which offer training programs in national state languages, including:
Details of these programs are presented on each website in the relevant national language so cannot be expanded upon here. Please visit the institutional websites or EAIP to find out more.
8. The Tivoli Institute, Dublin, Ireland
The Tivoli Institute offers a master’s (MA) in humanistic and integrative psychotherapy during weekends on campus over four years.
Applicants must have a degree and have completed the Institute’s foundation course or have equivalent experience.
Prerequisites include experience of personal development, attendance at training workshops, or working as a helping professional in a way that demonstrates the necessary qualities to become a qualified psychotherapist.
Graduates are eligible to apply for professional membership of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy, the Irish Association for Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy, and the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
All EU citizens are eligible to apply.
Find out more by visiting the Tivoli Institute’s website.
9. Aventis Graduate School, Singapore
The Aventis Graduate School in Singapore offers the same Master of Arts in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy that is offered at the University of Roehampton mentioned above.
The program is taught on campus in Singapore with the same course structure and content, and the degree is awarded by the University of Roehampton.
The program is primarily aimed at citizens and residents of Singapore and is delivered as blended learning — a mixture of online and campus-based teaching. For further details about the Aventis program, visit their website.
10. Ikon Institute of Australia
Students at the Ikon Institute can study a holistic, integrative approach to therapy during their Bachelor of Counselling and Psychotherapy program. The course is offered at different campuses in Australia, including Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney, and is open to both home-based and international students.
The course is professionally accredited by the Australian Counselling Association, and graduates are eligible for full professional membership when they have completed extra supervision, continuing professional development, and professional practice hours after graduating.
Online integrative therapy training options exist for practicing counselors and psychotherapists interested in exploring how to adopt an integrated approach to clinical practice. These can therefore be classed as professional development options rather than clinical training programs.
1. Transformations Institute, UK
The Transformations Institute offers their international diploma in integrative psychotherapy and counseling online.
It covers clinical hypnotherapy, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Rogerian client-centered counseling skills, foundations of neuro-linguistic programming, and energy and transpersonal psychology with breathwork and meridian therapies, including emotional freedom techniques.
Completion of this course does not lead to professional accreditation as a counselor or psychotherapist in the United Kingdom but can provide a foundation for further study.
In this section, we’ve chosen the top five integrative therapy training books aimed both at trainees and experienced practitioners.
1. Integrative Psychotherapy in Action – Richard G. Erskine and Janet P. Moursund
This book is considered a classic in integrative therapy circles. It describes what integrative therapy training is from the perspective of two of its pioneers, psychologists Richard Erskine and Janet Moursund.
It provides a practical guide to developing a working integrative approach to psychotherapy by referring to transcripts of actual case examples.
Cases are used to explain how to integrate various theoretical perspectives and apply them in practice. An integrative model helps the psychotherapist support the client in becoming a more integrated person.
2. Integrative Psychotherapy: A Mindfulness- and Compassion-Oriented Approach – Gregor Žvelc and Maša Žvelc
The authors of this pioneering book integrate relational psychotherapy with the latest research and practice in mindfulness and compassion-oriented integrative psychotherapy.
The authors refer to recent research on the intersubjective physiology of the autonomic nervous system to propose that mindfulness and compassion are transformational meta-processes that can accelerate growth and change within an integrative, attuned therapeutic relationship.
4. Relational Patterns, Therapeutic Presence: Concepts and Practice of Integrative Psychotherapy – Richard G. Erskine
This book by Richard Erskine describes how the integrative approach to psychotherapy resists pathologizing the client and instead focuses on relational integrity as the foundation of therapeutic change.
The book begins by explaining the philosophy behind the approach before describing the therapeutic processes involved, including attention to attachment patterns and life scripts and how unconscious relational patterns contribute to the organization of experience.
A range of approaches to psychotherapy are considered, including expressive methods, person-centered perspectives, and the psychodynamic interpretation of emerging defensive structures as the therapeutic relationship evolves.
The integrative approach to psychotherapy has evolved because of the widespread recognition that it is the quality of the therapeutic relationship that determines the success of psychotherapy, rather than the approach used.
Training in integrative therapy is a wise choice if you are interested in including a range of perspectives in your clinical work and combining them to meet the unique needs of each client.
Trained therapists can also benefit from professional development workshops that develop the skills required to apply more than one approach to psychotherapy in an existing practice.
If you know of any other outstanding training providers out there, then let us know in the comments.
Feixas, G., & Botella, L. (2004). Psychotherapy integration: Reflections and contributions from a constructivist epistemology. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 14(2), 192–222.
Wampold, B. E., & Imel, Z. E. (2015). The great psychotherapy debate: The evidence for what makes psychotherapy work. Routledge.
Zarbo, C., Tasca, G. A., Cattafi, F., & Compare, A. (2016). Integrative psychotherapy works. Frontiers in Psychology, 6.
About the author
Jo Nash, Ph.D., is a writer, editor, and writing coach. Jo obtained her Ph.D. in Psychotherapy Studies from the University of Sheffield, where she was a Lecturer in Mental Health at the Faculty of Medicine for over a decade.
Today, Jo combines her passion for language with mindfulness skills when coaching writers to help them cultivate flow and optimize productivity. She is the creator of the ‘focused flow’ approach to writing coaching.