We hear about holistic balance, holistic medicine, holistic therapy, holistic psychologist more and more these days. We read about "holistic stuff" on Instagram posts and in Tik Tok videos. But let’s speak frankly, do we always know exactly what we are reading about? If you like us sometimes find yourself thinking: “What does holistic even mean?”- “Is this more related to philosophy, psychology or spirituality? Or all of them?”-“Does this involve some bizarre voodoo remedies or it's all legit?”, this post should help. We did a bit of research and hopefully we'll be able to answer to these questions in this post.
A LITTLE BIT OF CONTEXT
The word holistic was initially used in philosophy to describe the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. The use of the term “holistic" dates back to the time of Hippocrates, over 2,500 years ago. Hippocrates believed that it was insufficient to focus on one aspect of a person and emphasised the importance of establishing equilibrium within individuals, viewing the person as a whole as being made up of many parts working in harmony with one another.
In the 20th century, health care became more medically focused as the care of certain symptoms and eventually was reduced to one form of intervention. Issues with the mind were typically treated with talk therapy and symptoms in the body were addressed with drugs and surgeries. The mind and body were consistently viewed as separate entities.
It wasn't until the 1970s that people in medical and other health care sectors began to realise that treating only one or a few symptoms generally only served to manage certain issues and did not always succeed in helping people improve their overall quality of life.
Today, what is generally called “holistic treatment” tends to focus on the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.
Holistic therapy could be described as an integrative approach that focuses on the relationship between mind, body, and spirit, attempting to address the ways issues in one aspect of a person can lead to concerns in other areas.
Those pursuing holistic therapy may, with the support of a qualified mental health professional, become better attuned to their entire awareness, which can often promote greater acceptance of the self.
Established on the principles of acceptance and relaxation, holistic therapy draws from multiple forms of therapy, such as Psychoanalysis, Cognitive behavioural therapy, Breathwork, Guided Imagery, and Heart-Centred Hypnotherapy.
THEORY AND METHODS
Holistic therapy theory is based on the tenet that a person’s consciousness is nothing else than an integration of the mind, body, and spirit. Practitioners believe that viewing each person as a whole being is an essential first step in providing care, typically collaborate with those in therapy to help them gain awareness of the connections between their emotions, thoughts, physical experiences, and spiritual understandings. This deeper understanding of the whole self can often lend itself to greater self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-acceptance.
Holistic therapy does not work to eliminate symptoms. Instead, this therapy method views symptoms as one way a person's consciousness can bring attention to a person’s awareness. Once acceptance is achieved, individuals may be able to let go of their resistance, which can further allow them to relax and release any fears and of course, having a positive effect on symptoms too.
WHAT IS HOLISTIC THERAPY USED FOR?
Holistic therapy can be used to address any number of challenges, in a diverse range of individuals. A holistic approach may be beneficial in the treatment of: Depression, Anxiety, Concerns related to mood regulation, Somatic ailments, Stress, and some forms of Trauma.
The ideas behind holistic therapy are frequently used in areas of preventative therapy, which are also known as wellness practices. Within the area of prevention, holistic therapy translates in many alternative practices such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and massage therapy.
IS THERE A CONFLICT IN BELIEF?
In case you are asking yourself if this has anything to do with religion: the answer is no.
You don't need to be religious to benefit from spiritual practices such as meditation and yoga. You aren’t required to adhere to a particular faith or obliged to observe religious rituals such as baptisms or bar mitzvahs. You aren’t asked to believe in God, to attend worship services, or to learn specific prayers.
The author’s reflections
As a practitioner of psychology and a believer of holistic balance between body-mind-soul and evidence-based practices, this is how I merge these two dimensions in my life.
I cultivate awareness and practice mindfulness, presence, and acceptance through meditation and yoga breath, what I consider nourishment for my soul. I try to practice yoga and eat healthy as much as I can, which make my body feel strong and healthy; and use my knowledge about psychology to deal with my monkey mind, every time it tries to stop me from achieving goals or tell me what’s not good about myself.
At RISE, we believe in the importance of focussing on the whole person while providing support to individuals and we strive to provide evidence-based therapy.
Each person has a different experience of mental health, mental illness, and the path to recovery, and we want to honour such differences.
If you wish to book an appointment with us please feel free to contact us via email or submit a message through our website.
Sources and resources:
A history of holistic health. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.naturalhealers.com/holistic-health-history
Latorre, M. A. (2000). A holistic view of psychotherapy: Connecting mind, body, and spirit. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 36(2), 67-68.
Ventegodt, S., Andersen, N. J., & Merrick, J. (2003). Holistic medicine iii: the holistic process theory of healing. The Scientific World Journal, 3, 1138-1146.
Ventegodt, S., Kandel, I., Neikrug, S., & Merric, J. (2005). Clinical holistic medicine: Holistic treatment of rape and incest trauma. The Scientific World Journal, 5. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15962195
Ventegodt, S., Morad, M., & Merrick, J. (2004). Clinical holistic medicine: Prevention through healthy lifestyle and quality of life. Oral Health and Preventative Dentistry, 2, 239-246.
Ventegodt, S., Thegler, S., Andreasen, T., Struve, F., Enevoldsen, L., Bassaine, L., ... & Merrick, J. (2006). Clinical holistic medicine: psychodynamic short-time therapy complemented with bodywork. A clinical follow-up study of 109 patients. The Scientific World Journal, 6, 2220-2238.