How Eclectic Therapy Helps a Client's Needs

teenage girl (16-17) talking to therapist
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In the early part of the 20th century, many therapists rigidly adhered to a single style of treatment. Over the last decade, more therapists started to draw ideas from different therapeutic approaches. Eclectic psychotherapy, or eclectic therapy, is an approach that draws on multiple theoretical orientations and techniques.

Eclectic therapy is a flexible and multifaceted approach that allows the therapist to use the most effective methods available to address their client’s individual needs. Some therapists who don't like how the term seems insufficiently focused might refer to it as multi-modal therapy.

Some therapists adhere largely to a single orientation, such as ​psychodynamic or cognitive-behavioral theory, but may actually use a variety of techniques rooted in other theories as needed. Others self-identify as eclectic in their treatment orientation.

Either way, it is important that the therapist possesses a solid understanding of each theory for the techniques she uses.

HMOs and Eclectic Therapy

The rise of HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) and managed care approaches to healthcare has furthered the eclectic therapy movement. This is because, in order to receive reimbursement, therapists may have to document a variety of empirically supported techniques often drawn from different theoretical orientations.

Eclectic Therapy Is Effective for Mutism

Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder in children in which there is a consistent failure to speak in specific social situations. Eclectic therapy has been described as an effective therapeutic approach to address this, drawing on psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, and family theories and interventions.

Brief Eclectic Therapy Effectively Treats PTSD

Brief eclectic therapy is a common therapy approach in the treatment of PTSD, potentially helping the patient to make meaning out of their traumatic experience as well as better cope with it. Anxiety disorders, such as phobias, commonly accompany a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis.

In a study published in the European Journal of Psychotraumatology, researchers integrated elements from three treatment approaches to creating their successful eclectic treatment program:

  1. The psychodynamic approach helped those with PTSD to integrate the dark side of human tragedy into their personal narrative in a healthy way.
  2. The cognitive-behavioral approach was applied by repeatedly exposing the patient to the traumatic event until anxiety fades.
  3. The researchers relied on directive psychotherapy to address client's grief by creating a farewell ritual at the end of treatment using memorabilia.
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Article Sources
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  • Camposano, Lisa. The Professional Counselor: Silent Suffering - Children with Selective Mutism (2011)

  • Gersons and Schnyder. Learning from Traumatic Experiences with Brief Eclectic Psychotherapy for PTSD. European Journal of Psychotraumatology (2013).

  • IntroToPsych.com. Eclecticism in Therapy.