Training Psychotherapists: A Course on Psychotherapy Integration

Training Psychotherapists: A Course on Psychotherapy Integration | Elizabeth Dickson

Course Overview

The proposed course on psychotherapy integration includes all of the elements highlighted on this website, beginning with a discussion of the types of journeys that the therapists have had so far.

There is also a segment on “Creating a Framework for Psychotherapy Integration” where we look at what actually happens when a therapist sits down with a client and draws from different theories and approaches. A big part of this is understanding how we know whether our interventions are “working” on a moment by moment basis.


The Concern About Teaching Psychotherapy Skills

The word “skills” can carry a negative connotation. It implies technique, which is often associated with a rigid application of an approach without sufficient sensitivity to nuance and context.

As a result, therapists are often taught theories rather than skills, even though theories almost always imply certain types of therapeutic actions. Yet, if the therapeutic actions or skills are not made explicit, students often fail to make the leap between theory and their actual practice with clients.


Proposed Approach to Teaching Psychotherapy Skills

Rather than avoid teaching skills altogether, we propose to combine discussions of theory and the implied actions or skills in a way that comes alive for students. Ideally skills are embodied, meaning that we have digested the theory behind them such that we understand their power in a visceral way. This, combined with years of practice honing our skills in our work with clients is what enables us to navigate with the greatest ease and confidence.

Much of the course would involve teaching selected psychotherapy skills that are implied by some of the most popular psychotherapy traditions or approaches. We begin with a review of the theory and selected skill sets from three of the theoretical traditions that have been integrated in The Experiential Psychotherapy Project (EPP). They are Focusing, Self-Psychology, and Relational Psychoanalysis.

There is also the more complex issue of integration skills—or the way that therapists navigate in each moment between opposing theories or approaches. Videos and case studies provide a way to witness therapists making these tradeoffs in action.


For an outline of the proposed course, visit Course on Psychotherapy Integration