Supportive psychotherapy

Supportive psychotherapy is a psychotherapeutic approach that integrates various schools to provide therapeutic support. It includes components from therapeutic schools such as psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, and interpersonal conceptual models and techniques.[1] The aim of supportive psychotherapy is to reduce or to relieve the intensity of manifested or presenting symptoms, distress or disability. It also reduces the extent of behavioral disruptions caused by the patient's psychic conflicts or disturbances.[2] 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.[3]

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

  • 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

A systematic review examined the effectiveness of supportive therapy for people with schizophrenia:

Supportive therapy versus any other psychological or psychosocial treatment[4]
There are few data to identify clear differences in a series of outcomes between supportive therapy and more sophisticated therapies for people with schizophrenia.[4]


Internet-based supportive psychotherapy is a type of supportive psychotherapy that is characterized by having a two-hour initial meeting between the client and therapist, and then periodic and occasional study conducted by therapist through email and telephone.[5]

Research directionsEdit

Some studies suggest that genetics, animal studies and neuroscience may have an impact or play a role in supportive psychotherapy.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Winston, Arnold; Richard N. Rosenthal; & Henry Pinsker. Introduction to Supportive Psychotherapy. Washington, D.C., American Psychiatric Publishing, 2004.
  2. ^ Dewald, P. A. (1994). "Principles of supportive psychotherapy". American Journal of Psychotherapy. 48 (4): 505–518. doi:10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.1994.48.4.505. ISSN 0002-9564. PMID 7872414.
  3. ^ Werman, David S. The Practice of Supportive Psychotherapy. New York, New York, Psychology Press, 1984.
  4. ^ a b Buckley, L; Maayan, N; Soares-Weiser, K (2015). "Supportive therapy for schizophrenia". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 4 (4): CD004716.pub4. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004716.pub4. PMC 6486211. PMID 25871462.
  5. ^ Litz, Brett T.; Engel, Charles C.; Bryant, Richard A.; Papa, Anthony (2007). "A Randomized, Controlled Proof-of-Concept Trial of an Internet-Based, Therapist-Assisted Self-Management Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder". American Journal of Psychiatry. 164 (11): 1676–1684. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2007.06122057. PMID 17974932.
  6. ^ Appelbaum, Ann (2008). "Supportive Psychotherapy for Borderline Patients". Social Work in Mental Health. 6: 145–155. doi:10.1300/j200v06n01_12.