Supportive psychotherapy

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Supportive psychotherapy is a psychotherapeutic approach that integrates psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, and interpersonal conceptual models and techniques.[1] 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. This therapy has been used for patients suffering from severe cases of addiction as well as Bulimia Nervosa, stress and other mental illnesses.[2] Trust is very important between patients and the doctors to help patients get better treatment effect.[3] Recent studies suggest that genetics, animal studies and neuroscience may have an impact or play a role in supportive psychotherapy. [4]

Main uses[edit]

As initial-therapy, to be reduced and not to be prolonged, used in situations or periods where there is a lack of means for: systematic approach, behaviorism. Examples of such situations:

  • critical negotiations
  • volatile but unavoidable everyday life or decisive situations
  • compromises (to introduce at least minimal operational, efficient relationship conditions) in long term, engaged relationships, based on lasting agreements

Internet-based supportive psychotherapy[edit]

A type of supportive psychotherapy that is characterized by having an two hour initial meeting between the client and therapist, and periodic and occasional study conducted by therapist through the contact of email and telephone. It is being criticized for its effectiveness as it lacks direct human contact.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Winston, Arnold; Richard N. Rosenthal; & Henry Pinsker. Introduction to Supportive Psychotherapy. Washington, D.C., American Psychiatric Publishing, 2004.
  2. ^ Werman, David S. The Practice of Supportive Psychotherapy. New York, New York, Psychology Press, 1984.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Appelbaum, Ann (2008). "Supportive Psychotherapy for Borderline Patients". Social Work in Mental Health 6: 145–155. 
  5. ^ Litz B.T., Engel C.C., Bryant R.A., Papa A. (2007) A randomized, controlled proof-of-concept trial of an Internet-based, therapist-assisted self-management treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder. Am J Psychiatry 2007; 164:1676–1683