A client and I have been working together for a couple of months now. He’s been going through an acute stress reaction triggered by a distressing event in his life. By the time he sought my help, he had been struggling with it for several months already. We started the whole process because he wanted to gain a better understanding of what had happened to him, to process his emotions around it, and to receive guidance on how to move forward and regain trust in people.
After two months of treatment, he started to recover slowly, and my ambition followed his recovery. We mentioned some past traumas, touched upon some patterns that may no longer be serving him, and so on. After having presented the case to my supervisor, she reminded me that this specific client came to me for support, and not for a deep analysis of his character, not because he wanted to change some core things about himself.
While we have made progress, our primary focus should remain on providing him with the necessary support he needs to stay stable and to recover. It’s not time to “deconstruct” his personality and/or life, and evaluate their core aspects, or at least not yet. The focus should remain on supportive therapy.
How does Supportive Therapy work?
Support is, or should be, part of every therapeutic relationship and process. However, when we talk about supportive therapy, we refer to a shift of focus. Supportive therapy is a type of therapy that provides clients with emotional support, encouragement, and validation during difficult life circumstances or psychological challenges.
In supportive therapy, the therapist provides a nonjudgmental, empathetic, and supportive environment. The therapist listens to the client’s concerns and validates their feelings. One of the key components of supportive therapy is the therapeutic relationship.
The Therapeutic Relationship
The therapist and client work together to establish a strong rapport based on trust, honesty, and mutual respect. This relationship provides the foundation for the client to feel safe and supported as they work through their challenges. Supportive therapy focuses on helping clients cope with their current situation, rather than exploring past traumas or unresolved conflicts. Therapists help clients identify their strengths and they encourage them to use those strengths when faced with adverse situations. The therapist may also offer practical advice and problem-solving strategies to help the client navigate their current situation.
Benefits of Supportive Therapy
In research papers, supportive therapy is usually what’s used with the control group of patients, and it has been proven to be just as effective as other choices of treatment (psychotherapies that focus on changing beliefs, behaviors, etc). The benefits of supportive therapy are numerous. It can help clients improve their mood, reduce their anxiety, and increase their self-esteem. It can also help clients develop healthier relationships with others, as they learn how to communicate their needs and feelings effectively.
Supportive Therapy Improves Well-Being
Supportive therapy can also help clients develop a sense of control and mastery over their lives, as they learn how to cope with stress and overcome obstacles. In spite of not appearing to be too ambitious, it can still help people develop healthy coping mechanisms, build self-esteem, and improve their overall well-being. It can be helpful for individuals dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, grief, and other emotional issues, and it can also be beneficial for those who feel overwhelmed, stuck, or unsure of how to move forward.
In conclusion, supportive therapy is a type of therapy that provides emotional support and validation to individuals who are struggling with life’s challenges. It can be a powerful tool for those in need of emotional support, as it provides a nonjudgmental, empathetic, and supportive environment. If you are considering seeking therapy, consider exploring supportive therapy as an option. Remember, you deserve to feel supported, heard, and validated. With the right support, it is possible to overcome even the most difficult of circumstances.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Branka Mlinar is a psychologist and Gestalt therapist offering psychotherapy and counselling to adolescent and adult individuals. She’s mostly worked with problems of anxiety, interpersonal and relationship issues, procrastination, work-related stress, trauma, and grief.
Gabbard, G. O. (2014). Psychotherapy in psychiatry: Historical and contemporary perspectives. American Psychiatric Pub.
Shear, M. K., & Jackson, C. T. (2013). The current state of supportive psychotherapy. Current psychiatry reports, 15(6), 359.