BACKGROUND The proliferation of psychotherapies has been balanced by an equal and opposite tendency towards integration. Integrative approaches are particularly relevant to psychotherapy in psychiatric settings.
METHOD MEDLINE and manual literature searches yielded over 250 articles on psychotherapy integration, which are reviewed in the light of the authors' experience in a district psychotherapy service.
RESULTS Psychotherapy integration is an umbrella term covering a wide range of meanings: rapprochement between different theoretical positions; convergence of ideas and techniques; eclectic selection from many different methods; and integration proper in specifically integrative therapies. Many effective psychotherapeutic treatments for psychiatric disorders are integrative, including those for depression, schizophrenia, bulimia nervosa and borderline personality disorder.
CONCLUSIONS Integration at the level of practice is common and desirable. At the level of theory, clarification and creative conflict are essential. Different therapeutic approaches should work closely together but retain their separate identities.