The supportive psychotherapy aims at is to prevent the patient who has suffered from a life distress or any mental ailment from getting worse and through relieving symptoms, so that the other therapeutic process can be initiated and completed successfully.
What to expect?
Main objectives of supportive psychotherapy are- a)Strengthening the existing defenses, b) Restoring to an adaptive equilibrium, c) Elaborating new and better mechanisms of maintaining control. Although improvement in some areas of functioning is always desired, the major goal of intervention in this case is to prevent further deterioration. It can help people with both high and low ego strength.
How does it work?
In supportive therapy, a routine detailed history is the rule. After reviewing his history, according to this record, if it seems reasonable, working goals are scaled, aiming at recovering the patient’s equilibrium. With this in mind, symptoms are attacked from several different lines. Firstly through administration of medicaments, The medicines would provide temporary relief providing ground for further treatments. The patient may also be trained in progressive muscular relaxation in an attempt to relieve his taut muscular state, reassuring the effect that his problem is not irremediable and persuaded to utilize his will power to get well. He may also be removed from his environmental situation. By absenting himself from existing areas of stress, he may experience an assuaging of tension and other symptoms.
The philosophy behind such approaches is that symptoms impair the functional efficiency of the psyche like a diseased gall bladder upsets the entire digestive system. Suggestion, persuasion, “thought control,” progressive relaxation, purposeful forgetting, the plunging of the self into extroverted activities, and behavioral techniques are among the devices aimed at the symptom, as if it were a foreign body whose presence obstructed an otherwise intact psychic mechanism. In some cases substantial successes may be scored by this type of therapy. Indeed, formal psychotherapy may not even be needed in certain personality types who are able to forestall emotional collapse by practicing such devices as “riding their symptoms,” substituting innocuous for painful thoughts, engaging in distracting pursuit of social activities, and observing a punctilious performance of ritual and prayer. In justification of these methods, it must be said that many persons are not motivated to accept more intensive treatment. In these cases the mastery of symptoms helps individuals gain freedom from excruciating distress and sometimes permits them to order their lives in a more fulfilling way.
When is it used?
Supportive psychotherapy can be used with a wide range of problems. This approach could be used with a person who has a faced a crisis, depression or some form of stress. When a person is distressed this therapy work by providing instant symptom relief. It had been used for cases of personality disorders, PTSD and physical health problem which might result in reduced mental health of an individual.
Role of a supportive psychotherapist:
The type of relationship between therapist and patient varies among the different different stages of therapy. Although, in supportive psychotherapy the active role is taken by the client in most of the situation, the role of therapist is usually directive in nature. The amount of advice offered to the patient correlates positively with the degree of directiveness and authoritarianism assumed by the therapist in his or her relationship with the patient. In these therapies certain aspects of the positive transference is encouraged, and utilized to facilitate therapeutic change. In supportive therapy, accordingly, it is often given.
• Wolberg, L.R(2013), THE TECHNIQUE OF PSYCHOTHERAPY, FOURTH EDITION., Copyright © 2013, 1988 Lewis R. Wolberg: United States of America