What is Holistic Therapy?
Holistic therapy addresses the mind, body, and spirit to support health and healing. In other words, it’s combining mental and emotional health with physical and spiritual aspects of experience. Holistic therapy can take many different forms and combines aspects of traditional talk therapy and non-traditional approaches.
Rather than focusing on a narrow problem, it considers mental, physical, and spiritual factors that influence a person’s well-being and seeks to help people heal and thrive on a deeper level.
Its goal is to help individuals develop a deeper understanding of themselves on all these levels. It uses evidence-based treatment and a holistic framework and is often tailored to the individual’s unique needs. On the surface, it may seem like our problems are only related to certain aspects of ourselves. However, the issues we experience are rarely confined to just one element of our being. There is often a deeper connection, even if we cannot readily see it at first. Holistic therapy can help address all of these symptoms, whether they’re physical, emotional, or even spiritual.
The term “holistic” dates back to the time of ancient Greek philosopher Hippocrates, over 2,500 years ago. As a historic figure he laid the foundations for holistic therapy.
‘Holistic’ comes from the Greek word holos, meaning ‘whole’
Hippocrates identified that individuals will “never be well unless the whole is well”. He also emphasized the importance of establishing equilibrium within individuals, viewing the person as a whole being made up of many parts working in concert with one another.
However, the term “holism” was officially coined by Jan Christiaan in 1926. There is no doubt that these two individuals were instrumental in the theory of “holism,” but other holistic modalities followed. An example of this is traditional Ayurvedic medicine, which has origins in India and dates back to the 6th century. Holistic therapy also existed in traditional medicine systems such as TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).
As modern medicine progressed during the later portion of the 19th century, it was not until the 1970s that people in medical and other health care fields began to feel 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.
In 1975, California played host to the first National Conference on Holistic Health. This conference began a movement for alternative forms of care both in the field of medicine and among therapists. Soon after, the American Holistic Health Association (AHHA) and the Holistic Medical Association were established. This series of events helped holistic healing gain credibility. Holistic therapy reached a high interest again since the COVID-19 pandemic started in March 2020. The pandemic played a huge role in everyone’s awareness of overall health. The key to holistic therapy is not to achieve change in individuals but more to accept the present moment – who you are and where you are. Understanding that your health is more than just physical or mental, but an inclusion of all layers of self.
What are the different types of Holistic Therapy techniques?
Holistic therapy can take many different forms. Holistic therapy is an umbrella term that can encompass a number of different types of treatments and techniques. Professionals who offer this type of treatment may refer to themselves as holistic therapists. It is also common for therapists to offer one type of holistic therapy, and to specialise in that field.
Holistic therapy is mostly rooted in bodywork and mindfulness practices. Some commonly used techniques that are used during holistic therapy treatments include:
- Body Talk
- Chinese Medicine
- Craniosacral Therapy
- Energy Healing
- Fascia Release
- Health Coach
- Holistic Healing
- Life Coach
- Personal Training
- Spiritual Counselling
- Tantric Healing
These are just a few examples of the many techniques that can make up holistic therapy.
There are several positive aspects to holistic therapy, and it’s been found beneficial in a number of studies. One such study – A 2021 systemic review Trusted Source indicates that several types of yoga, particularly Hatha Yoga, could aid in the treatment of addiction to nicotine, alcohol, or drugs in women. Another such study – A 2017 systemic review and meta-analysis by Trusted Source indicates that meditation might have a small effect on chronic pain and improve depression symptoms.
The wellness practices that are frequently utilized in holistic therapy are often used more generally to help people deal with tension and stress and to promote overall well-being. Holistic approaches are also often centralized on prevention in addition to treatment. Rather than waiting until a problem emerges, learning to utilize holistic treatments may be helpful for preventing problems that can harm a person’s emotional, social, physical or spiritual well-being.
The overall goal of the holistic approach is to create an intense sense of self-awareness. When done properly, holistic therapy can help you connect important aspects of your life that are working together in some way. By understanding how the mind, body, and spirit connect to mental health, you can overcome obstacles and get to the root of issues you may be having that are preventing you from living your best life.
Peer-reviewed research suggests that holistic therapy can help improve overall mental well-being and may offer benefits for:
- cognitive function
- family communication
- chronic pain
- muscle tension
- digestive troubles
- poor sleep
Holistic therapy has ancient roots but is definitely gaining popularity in more recent years due to the growing interest in the mind-body connection and natural approaches to treatment. Fostering wellness by integrating complementary and alternative treatment methods has great benefits.
We cannot live a happy and meaningful life if we are disconnected. This is why it is so important to look at all the elements of health simultaneously. You don’t need to have a mental health condition or symptoms to seek support from a holistic therapist. You might benefit from holistic therapy if you are simply interested in learning more about yourself and how to integrate the different aspects of your well-being.