What Is Supportive Therapy & How Does It Work?

Last Update on April 1, 2021 : Published on December 24, 2020
Supportive therapy

Although many patients are returning back home after psychotherapy completely cured, some still find few symptoms and emotional disturbance. However, supportive therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is based on the therapeutic alliance to remove the tiniest possible issues. It is based on the relationship between client and therapist in order to engage with each other and share the benefits altogether.

What Is Supportive Therapy?

Supportive psychotherapy actively works towards preserving the authority and voice of a client and a therapist makes sure that they are active during the whole process. It is true that most psychotherapies have support for therapists but supportive therapy is very particular about it.

The therapists help in providing stability to their patients by accounting cognitive skills, reality testing, thought process assessment, regulation and finding the progress in patient’s behavior. It is different from expressive therapies which are meant to accomplish the change through relationship analysis or exploring thoughts and feelings.

Interventions Techniques That are Applied During Supportive Therapy:

1. Building an alliance:

Therapists make sure that they express empathy towards their client and talk in an informal way so that they open themselves up. When the person feels comfortable to share his or her thoughts, it becomes easier for therapists to proceed ahead.

2. Building Esteem:

Therapists provide reassurance and accept the feelings that you are going through to provide encouragement.

3. Building Skills:

The client is equipped with new tools and skills to enrich themselves where therapists guide them in anticipating life stressors.

4. Becoming Aware:

Developing awareness through introduction, confrontation and interpretation is an essential supportive psychotherapy technique.

5. Preventing Anxiety:

Normalizing and reframing clients’ thoughts help in managing the anxiety.

A Brief About Supportive Therapy

As we understand the techniques and basis of therapy, it’s time to find who can take this therapy.

The therapeutic models focus on developing positive attitudes, improving self-esteem, deal with ego issues and form adaptive skills. Those who are dealing with:

Can look for supportive expressive therapy for themselves or their loved ones. It can also be noted that there is a two way connection between poverty and mental illness. For such instances, supportive therapy acts as a bridge so that the person doesn’t feel completely backed out during a tough phase.

How Effective Is Supportive Therapy?

From emotional challenges to mental health problems, this new psychotherapy has shown effectiveness in most of the cases. The therapeutic alliance acts as a major contributing factor for any therapy to be successful. Thankfully, it is best for people who are new to the world of therapy and don’t want to get into structured sessions.

What Happens In Supportive PsychoTherapy Sessions?

The therapy sessions are structured on various sets like:

  1. Maintaining a bond between client and therapist
  2. Forming an agreement between the two and deciding goals together
  3. How much effort would a client put in for therapy to work?
  4. How much a therapist would be involved during the treatment?

Most of the goals that client and therapist decide together are based on roles like behavior change, relaxation techniques, visualization, graded exposure and more. The sessions do not stay in the clinic alone but you are also given homework to empower yourself. If you perform great, you are applauded and praised for your success.

The patient is taught about his illness he is going through and the family may also be educated during sessions.

How Long Does The Treatment Last?

Unlike various other therapies, supportive therapy is not bound by time. It can run along with other ongoing therapies or can run on a short or long term basis. It is because this therapy is based on building trust between the two parties, the time taken for it may not be decided before.


When you find a therapist who is empathetic towards you and follows a non-directive approach to build trust and alliance, you can start with a supportive therapy with them. However, it is important to consider economic, geographic or cultural issues that a patient might have faced in the past. It is then only that supportive therapy works in the best possible way for an improved relationship of patient with oneself.

About The Author

Akanksha Soni
Akanksha Soni

Akanksha is an active lifestyle blogger and writer at Calmsage. She has learnt various lessons on happiness and methods to fight depression through 'Gurus' as well as own experiences. An ardent practitioner of Yoga and meditation, she keeps traveling, writes and interacts with people to feel alive.

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