How Eclectic Therapy Helps a Client's Needs

teenage girl (16-17) talking to therapist
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In the 1940s and 1950s, most therapists rigidly adhered to a single style of treatment. Since the 1970s, therapists started to draw ideas from different therapeutic approaches. Today, eclectic therapy is the most common.

Eclectic therapy is a more 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 ​psychoanalysis or cognitive-behavioral theory, but use eclectic techniques as needed. Others self-identify as eclectic in orientation, utilizing whichever techniques work best in any given situation.

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 HMO (Health Management Organizations) approach to healthcare has furthered the eclectic therapy movement. This is because, in order to receive reimbursement, therapists have to prove the treatment applied is the best one for the patient's problem. Best practices are supported by clinical evidence.

Therefore, if an existential therapist wants to get paid by the HMO for specific phobia treatment, he has to use cognitive behavioral therapy techniques because research shows them to be the most effective.

Eclectic Therapy Is Effective for Mutism

Mutism is a phobia of talking most commonly diagnosed in children that can lead to anxiety and social phobia (social anxiety disorder). All phobias are an anxiety disorder, and children suffering from mutism are likely to present with moderate to severe anxiety.

Eclectic therapy is the most common therapeutic approach to address mutism. A successful treatment program for mutism can include:

  • Play therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Pharmacotherapy, medication

Taping, although not suitable for all children, is also an effective, eclectic approach to mutism. Your child repeatedly listens to a recording of themselves speaking, which has been edited to sound like they are at school or other stressful settings.

Brief Eclectic Therapy Effectively Treats PTSD

Brief eclectic therapy is one of the best choices for treatment if the PTSD patient wants to make meaning out of their traumatic experience and learn lessons from it. Anxiety disorders, such as the three types of phobia (specific phobia, social phobia, and agoraphobia) 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 biological 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).

  • Eclecticism in Therapy.