Supportive Psychotherapy

Supportive Psychotherapy is used to reinforce a patient's ability to cope with stressors. Techniques include attentive listening, encouraging patients to express feelings, and assisting patients to understand their situation, with the therapist taking an active role of mentor or guide. The goal is to help patients improve emotional resilience and develop realistic hope.

  • Supportive psychotherapy is indicated if psychoanalysis is typically contraindicated (e.g. - poor ego strength, and potential for decompensation is high).
  • Other indications include individuals at acute crisis, chronic/severe psychopathology, cognitive or physical deficits unsuited for an insight-oriented approach, or if one is psychologically unmotivated.

Supportive psychotherapy aims to:

  • Ameliorate symptoms
  • Foster stability and improved functioning
  • Support adaptive efforts to decrease relapse risk
  • Can involve psychoeducation and is present-focused
  • Focuses on the present
  • Get to know the patient and supportive people in their lives
  • Build esteem and reduce anxiety (praise/reassurance/encouragement)
  • Provide advice, teaching, and anticipatory guidance
  • Clarify, summarize, and paraphrase statements made by the patient
  • Discuss maladaptive behaviours and use some motivational interviewing techniques
  • Maintain the therapeutic frame