Supportive therapy is a pragmatic approach in which the therapist helps the person she’s working with negotiate crises and achieve symptom relief. As with CBT, the focus is on the present and on problem solving through whatever the most pressing issues might be.
While a supportive therapy may well incorporate CBT techniques to help someone learn new ways of dealing with a situation or to alter problem behaviors, it takes a more medical approach. Symptoms are viewed as manifestations of the underlying illness. Tracking symptoms, and symptom reduction, is the focus of the therapy.
Supportive therapy incorporates psychoeducation, medications, social interventions (help with housing, family sessions, couples sessions), and behavioral strategies in the pursuit of symptom reduction.