Full Training Program in Modal Integrative Psychotherapy

Modal Integrative Psychotherapy (MIP)  has arisen from philosophical counseling and philosophically informed practice of psychoanalysis, primarily based on the Lacanian tradition. It has been developed within the Institute for Practical Humanities in Belgrade Serbia, which has been is the training hub for the region in philosophically informed counseling and psychotherapy since 2013.

The Institute’s members have developed the training materials through an ambitious curriculum of psychoanalytic and philosophical thought.


The mission of Modal Integrative Psychotherapy is to provide an over-arching methodology that would unify philosophical practice, and specifically philosophical counseling, with more traditional forms of psychotherapy, based on a particular logical stance, namely on an emphasis on modal, as opposed to standard binary logic of propositional truth conditions. All of the current psychotherapeutic schools assume an almost exclusive emphasis on Aristotelian syllogism and inductive conclusion as the traditional, in fact the only, types of logical thinking applicable to psychotherapy, whereas Modal Integrative Psychotherapy sees the reliance on more modern modal logic as more productive for psychotherapeutic process. This process is akin to Jonan Galtung’s analysis of social and psychological processes (especially conflicts) in terms of modal distinctions, which Galtung calls “the real”, “the irreal” (almost real, easily possible), and “the impossible”. The distinction is grounded in the modal logical operators of “necessary” and “possible”, with the introduction of the concept of “possible worlds”, which is the standard modal logic operator for various feasible states of affairs. The most practical consequence of this type of shift of logical emphasis is that, while most standard schools of psychotherapy take the actual state of affairs, or “facts” of life, as more or less given, and focus the therapeutic process on the client’s interpretation and personal experience of these facts, Modal Integrative Psychotherapy includes the metaphysical and at the same time psychological dimension of being able to “jump” from one given state of affairs to another through a shift in focus, as in modal logic states of affairs, or sets of circumstances, are seen as being clustered together, where one state of affairs happens to be actual because the person’s attention and actions are focused and attached to that particular state of affairs, while any of the other members of the same cluster of states of affairs (or “possible worlds” in modal logic terms) can more or less easily be transformed from an “irreal” to an “actual” status by the client’s shift in the modality of attention and overall thinking about the situation. This allows Modal Integrative Psychotherapy to integrate both the traditional goal of psychotherapy to influence the person’s experience and self-development within the externally given situation one finds oneself in, and the advanced decision-making methodologies and tools (distributive, integrative, decision making based on reciprocity, on consistency etc.) so as to deliberately refocus different modalities in dealing with each objective situation and take alternative stances where a seeming stalemate has been reached in particular life situations. The overall mission of Modal Integrative Psychotherapy is thus to unite the key facets of practical philosophy and psychotherapy not through a synthesis, but through a methodological, logical integration, a type of methodological-logic transcendence of propositional into modal logic in the therapeutic process.

General forms of application

Modal Integrative Psychotherapy is applicable across a range of typical counseling situations, especially in marriage and couples counseling, parenting, burnout and related workplace relationship issues and a wide range of decision-making and negotiation situations in various relationship contexts.


Other modalities of psychotherapy used together with Philotherapy 

The three therapeutic modalities most likely to be used alongside or within Modal Integrative Psychotherapy include Psychodynamic Therapy (PDT), which is based on psychoanalysis, both classical Freudian and later Lacanian and Jungian modalities, Transactional Analysis (TA) and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).


Main differences between MIP and those related to it

The main difference between Modal Integrative Psychotherapy and psychoanalysis of all three modalities, and specifically PDT as a practical application in therapy, is methodological. Crudely speaking, psychoanalysis follows the general methodological precept defined by Freud in his Dream Psychology that is a sort of psychological “reverse engineering process”, where the work of repression into the unconscious or, in the case of dreams, the work of converting what Freud calls “manifests content” of a dream into a “latent”, coded content, is addressed by therapy in a reversed manner, by extending conscious insight into what had been repressed or, in the case of dreams, interpreting latent content from the manifest content of a dream. Modal Integrative Psychotherapy endorses this methodology, but introduces modal operators of perspective, time, and the alternative “close-by” situations to which the client might choose to revert or switch position. This means that, rather than focusing on a more or less liner reverse engineering of psychic data and experiential descriptions, which is a definitional mark of psychoanalysis, Modal Integrative Psychotherapy adds a therapeutic aspect of epistemic “switching”, namely of refocusing on dormant and yet closely available alternative manners of approaching the reality on a logical level. While a psychoanalyst might reinterpret a repressed ideation, or a dream, as a yearning for acceptance by close ones, or a desire for revenge that runs against the client’s accepted conscious values, the modal integrative psychotherapist would embrace this analysis, with its resulting emotional situation, and then introduce a logical challenge: “and what if this was different in so-and-so a way, which is almost as real, as close to reality, as the actual state of affairs?”. This might allow the client not only the insight and personality expansion that arise from psychoanalytic discovery, but also an effective use of the alternative stances that allow otherwise impossible courses of action. Such changes need to be couched in consistent logical processes in order to be sustainable. They are particularly applicable in difficult relationships, such as marital, romantic and parenting relationships.

The difference between MIP and TA is similar to the difference between MIP and PDT. Namely, MIP can theoretically and practically endorse most of the TA’s interpretations in terms of transactional content, the stroke-based accumulation of satisfactions and confirmations and, most importantly, the idea of a broad underlying rationality of all subjects, where “everything a person does pays off to her in some way, on some level”, MIP introduces a critical logical perspective that, whatever the script, whatever the relevant history of the transactions, the “shift” in logical stance allows otherwise unavailable therapeutic outcomes.

CBT and MIP share a recognition and therapeutic handling of behavioral and patterns of decision-making, however CBT is firmly based on classical deductive and inductive propositional logic, while MIP broadens this logic in various modal dimensions by introducing angle, stance, time, probability, etc.

Definition of the method

Modal Integrative Psychotherapy is a philosophically inspired modality of psychotherapy that is based on a methodological shift away from the traditional reliance on standard propositional logic (something is true or untrue in the given state of affairs, or “modal world”), to more comprehensive modal logic (what is true or untrue in a certain state of affairs might have different truth or practical value in a different state of affairs).

The essence of the method

Modal Integrative Psychotherapy focuses on states of affairs (“modal worlds”) in the psychotherapeutic process as much as on the subjective processes. Thus, issues of focus, attention, patterns and discipline of thought and the logical inference based on a recognition of logical alternatives to linear reasoning come to the fore in Modal Integrative Counseling.

Theoretical foundations

The theory behind Modal Integrative Counseling arises from Johan Galtung’s modal theory, integrative humanistic theory, especially integrative bioethical theory, and from psychoanalysis. All three sources found various facets of MIP. The modal theory is the foundation of integrative methodology in MIP, integrative bioethics focuses practical aspects and ethical issues in psychotherapy as a helping profession, and psychoanalysis, especially in the Lacanian tradition, offers fundamental theoretical concepts and values on which a large part of MIP draws.

Application. Indications for use

MIP is applied across the spectrum of individual, couples and group counseling and psychotherapy, and is especially adapt for marriage and couples’ counseling, parenting issues and a wide array of value-impregnated decision-making and transactional issues at work, in the family, and in the society at large. MIP focuses on the personality and has a practical aspect that is specifically useful for dealing with morally charged personality disorders (DSM IV and V ‘Cluster B’ Disorders, namely the Histrionic, Narcissistic, Antisocial and especially Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) which MIP sees as the foundational morally- and value-relevant personality disorder).

Practical results

The practical results of MIP typically involve major changes in decision-making capacity, ability to negotiate quality relationships within the client’s social circle, and to assess important relationships. In our practice so far, over the past decade, MIP has shown particularly good results in addressing difficult family issues (conflictual divorce, difficult and ethically controversial child custody proceedings, ethically charged issues with care for the elderly parents), and in the field of workplace relationships, especially the issues of ‘burnout syndrome’ and conflict-resolution challenges that are career-related. A special aspect of MIP deals with Cluster B Personality Disorders, where some of the most significant results include effective boundary setting for Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder patients with regard to their close ones (control of aggression and impulsivity based on the induction, through therapy, of social normativity and limits of tolerance for breaches of trust and assumption of benevolence). MIP is currently extensively use to address the ‘Dark Tetrad’ of personality traits (Machiavellianism, Narcissism, Psychopathy and Sadism). Interestingly, the Dark Tetrad (previously known as the ‘Dark Triad’ – Machiavellianism, Narcissism and Psychopathy) intertwines with the 4 Cluster B Personality Disorders (Narcissistic, Antisocial, Borderline and Histrionic), which allows the results achieved by MIP in treating Cluster B disorders to be naturally translated into interventions in the psychotherapy of persons exhibiting the Dark Tetrad.  The results of the 25 person team working within IPH on the applications of MIP involve a number of successful post-hospitalization treatment outcomes for various Cluster B patients, significant success in marriage and couples’ counseling for issues of varying nature and presentation, and successful outcomes in focused work on increasing the client’s decision-making capacity and skills.

Key features of the method

Modal Integrative Psychotherapy is a theoretical and practical modality of psychotherapy that is based on the application of modal logic and key concepts of integrative theory of modality and psychoanalytic concepts on a wide- ranging array of psychotherapeutic issues. It is a type of therapy that focuses value-relevant types of psychological pathology and psychological issues, such as personality disorders and decision-making situations with ethical ramifications, which encompass a majority of traditional psychotherapeutic situations. Its distinctive feature is a  emphasis on seeing therapeutically relevant situations as couched in ‘matters-of-fact’, or, to use the language of modal logic, on ‘modal worlds’, or ‘possible worlds’ that provide context for existential experience. Unlike traditional psychotherapeutic schools, which operate with linear, propositional logic based on truth-conditions, where what is true and what is a possible solution to a psychotherapeutic problem is seen as limited by actual states of affairs, by the person’s actual circumstances, modal therapy and modal logic see potential solutions in closely related, but not-yet-actual states of affairs, or modal worlds. Thus an important focus of Modal Integrative Psychotherapy is on discipline of attention, structural features of the values that guide one’s choices, and on becoming aware of alternative perspectives that arise from small shifts in the person’s circumstances that are within the person’s power to produce. Hence, rather than focusing primarily on the experience and the interpretation of what is ‘given’, Modal Integrative Psychotherapy uses modal logical operators such as ‘necessary’, ‘possible’ and ‘probable’ to broaden the therapeutic horizon and empower the client or interlocutor to seek what is impossible in their current situation by changing the situation by refocusing attention and maintaining discipline of thought to effect a transition to a different perspective. The idea of change of objective circumstances by refocusing attention here rests on the Pareto principle of distribution, which operates both in the natural and social sciences. The Pareto principle suggests that minuscule, miniature change, if sustained, follows the law of accumulation and leads to major change in behavior and decision-making patters. A consequence of the Pareto principle is that in most cases attempts to change one’s circumstances in a significant way, including a significant change in behavior patterns, will be unsuccessful, because the internal resources (resolution, will, relevant cognitions and value-judgements) tend to dissipate over time. On the other hand, Pareto suggests that for a person to effect a lasting change, one must seek a small change of circumstances , small improvements over short time spans, which most individuals disregard at the stage of impairment to functioning when they enter psychotherapy. The application of Pareto principle is consistent with the logic of modality, because Modal Integrative Psychotherapy focuses on as small and as objective a change possible to the current, actual circumstances of the client, combined with an analytic interpretation of the client’s existential experience, where the initial, often unnoticeable objective changes made by the client accumulate in the course of therapy to lasting structures of value transformation and the change in the person’s capacities to address adversity. In this way, Modal Integrative Psychotherapy reinterprets traditional psychotherapy through a logical and philosophical lens of modality where even the smallest of objective changes lead to a change of angle or perspective where some of the previously unavailable solutions and interpretative options become reachable.

Methodological guidelines – a guide to the application of the method.

Modal-Integrative Psychotherapy is applied in individual, couples and group therapy. The typical opening of the therapy shares the same guidelines as psychoanalysis, with the ‘dual observation;, or ‘dual listening’ of the client: registering the explicit content of the client’s narrative, and at the same time focusing on the meta-level of observation, where the missing, inconsistent and torn or distorted aspects of the narrative are registered. The initial interventions are aimed at defining the actual goal system of therapy by achieving what deep philosophy calls a ‘clearing’, namely by articulating a sufficient space of the client’s explicit and implicit (conscious and explicit, on the one hand, and hidden, possibly unconscious, on the other hand) presentation of the problems and issues to be addressed by therapy. Once the ‘clearing’ (a concept initially used by Maria Zambrano) is defined and sufficient transference is established between the client and the therapist, the therapist gradually integrates modal logical instruments into the discourse. Rather than working with ‘hard facts’ of the client’s life, the therapist focuses on the seemingly insignificant details of the client’s situation that the client can change. When the client questions the meaningfulness of such minute changes in the face of a major difficulty he or she is facing or experiencing, the therapist encourages him to think about the ‘view from a slightly different window’, or vantage point, even if it is figuratively only a foot away from where the client currently is. The process further unfolds by acquiring new modalities of the situation after the client has completed small changes or made small decisions seemingly incapable of affecting their overall situation. As the interpretation and vision change, the client should ideally become more eager to address minute details in order to acquire a different perspective and picture of the events and situations one is facing. In the course of time, the client becomes aware of the cognitive and emotional potential of modal thinking.

The methodology is a skeleton of the ideal psychotherapeutic process, which in every case will differ depending on the particular issues at stake, the personality of the client, the power of the client’s relationship with the therapist, and other factors, where a number of interventions characteristic of other therapeutic modalities close to modal thinking, such as CBT, the various psychodynamic/psychoanalytic interventions, as well as those characteristic of personality-centered psychotherapy, are applied.

After 12 trimesters (3 years) of attendance of the full program the successful participants receive a conditional certificate, which allows them to work with clients under supervision.

Following the completion of the full program (16 trimesters) the graduates receive a comprehensive certificate, which qualifies them for independent work with individuals, group work and organizational and corporate consultancy.

Applications are accepted on a continuous basis, however the number of places on the program is limited and a waiting period is common for accepted candidates to commence. Applicants should send a CV, copy of their university qualifications and a motivation letter no longer than 1000 words to office@iph.edu.rs.