Supportive psychotherapy seeks to provide a therapeutic relationship between the client and the therapist that initially concentrates on reducing anxiety and providing encouragement. The importance of providing security, comfort through talking, rest and stimulation through occupational and art therapies has long been recognised. Supportive psychotherapy seeks to provide this security to strengthen a client’s coping and socialisation.
The goals of supportive psychotherapy can vary from restoration to maintenance of functioning and fulfillment of whatever may be the client’s capacities for happiness and healthy living. The management of the feelings are the fundamental problem and the client is helped to learn to regulate its affect by tuning it up or down to produce a state where they can think.
There are five key components of effective supportive psychotherapy, adopting a conversational style, nurturing positive transference (feelings projected to the therapist), reducing anxiety, enhancing self-esteem and strengthening coping mechanisms.
Whilst supportive psychotherapy is not recommended by NICE as the first therapy to be used in the majority of mental health difficulties, it can be used to facilitate a client’s introduction to CBT approaches. It can also be effectively used if other therapeutic techniques have not been successful and it is also a helpful approach for crisis intervention.