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Supportive psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy which aims to support peoples existing defence mechanisms, coping skills etc rather than focusing on exploring underlying psychological issues. Therapists can choose this mode when clients are judged to have limited resources to engage with or benefit from exploratory work, or conversly where they have the resources and motivation too tackle less disturbing difficulties with the minimum of help. There is considerable overlap between this approach and counseling
WInston, Rosentahl and Pinksner describe it as a psychotherapeutic approach that integrates psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, and interpersonal conceptual models and techniques. The objective of the therapist is to reinforce the patient's healthy and adaptive patterns of thought behaviors in order to reduce the intrapsychic conflicts that produce symptoms of mental disorders. Unlike in psychoanalysis, in which the analyst works to maintain a neutral demeanor as a "blank canvas" for transference, in supportive therapy the therapist engages in a fully emotional, encouraging, and supportive relationship with the patient as a method of furthering healthy defense mechanisms, especially in the context of interpersonal relationships.
The main techniques employed include:
- Winston, Arnold; Richard N. Rosenthal; & Henry Pinsker. Introduction to Supportive Psychotherapy. Washington, D.C., American Psychiatric Publishing, 2004.