What is supportive therapy?
Supportive therapy is a type of psychotherapy that uses practical techniques, focused in the here and now, in order to reduce psychological distress and other psychological symptoms, to increase your abilities to cope with life stresses, and to restore, improve, and preserve healthy psychological defenses, coping skills, and self-esteem. A primary focus of supportive psychotherapy is enhancing your adaptive capacities to deal with issues that are currently causing distress. It is focused on present issues that are in your conscious mind, rather than emphasizing unconscious factors or a person’s distant past history. It is a highly practically oriented treatment, in which the therapist relates in a very conversational and straightforward way in order to facilitate a strong therapeutic alliance. Indeed, the therapeutic alliance is the key to success.
What is the therapeutic alliance?
The therapeutic alliance is the working alliance you experience with your therapist. It includes an emotional component, the bond you feel with your therapist, and a practical behavioral component, based on the mutual commitment you and your therapist have to collaborate in service of the goals of your choosing. The therapist works to ensure that therapy is a place where you can feel safe and trust that your therapist respects and accepts you, where you can be your authentic self without having to hide or worry about pleasing someone else, and where you can share things with someone who is truly committed to whatever is best for you.
Multiple studies have shown that the therapeutic alliance is one of the most critical factors in treatment success. At The Midtown Practice we work with you right from your first contact with us in order to foster a strong bond between you and your therapist, psychiatrist, or psychopharmacologist.
What techniques are used in supportive therapy?
Supportive therapy tends to focus on events of daily life or concerns that are most present in the patient’s mind. Much like a supportive parent, coach, or teacher, the therapist employs techniques that include:
- Listening actively and empathically to you, so that you can have the experience of feeling seen, understood, and accepted
- Providing sincere and appropriate praise for accomplishments and positive behavior changes, and comfort and reassurance when dealing with difficult situations or circumstances
- Providing encouragement to take steps to change behavior by identifying tasks and activities to achieve the goal
- Reframing to help you see things in new ways, which may reduce distress or open opportunities to make productive changes in your life
- Giving advice and teaching problem-solving and other skills to help you achieve your goals, and
- Other interventions that aim to help you in your situations and enhance your coping skills.
Supportive therapy may also include educating you and others about your condition/diagnosis, establishing realistic goals, and addressing diverse issues of concern to you. Your therapist may at times model productive behaviors and help you identify how you might want to live your life, consistent with your values and goals, given whatever your circumstances.
When is it used?
It is effective for anxiety, depression, relationship issues, emotional dysregulation, disordered thinking and disorganized behavior, and a host of other situations.
Contact The Midtown Practice to schedule a call with one of our clinicians so that we can learn more about what you are experiencing and what you are looking for, and so that we can determine which clinician and treatment approach offers the greatest potential to address your needs.