I use a holistic approach to counseling. But what does that mean? I find people tend to assume their own definitions for the term holistic. To me, holistic counseling means:
When you are having an issue that you want to change, doesn’t it make sense to try a variety of approaches? I work with my clients to do this. Some clients will want to try just one or two things at a time — that’s usually fine, as therapy is a collaboration.
Body, Mind, and Spirit
Body can refer to nutrition, exercise, sleep, herbs, alternative medical approaches (like acupuncture), and medications. I frequently will suggest taking up one of these practices or holistic counseling with practitioners in these given fields.
Mind refers to any of the many approaches to holistic counseling or healthful mental practices. In my case I most often mean cognitive behavioral therapy (looking at how thoughts effect feelings), general supportive listening, meditation, and hypnotic or guided meditation approaches.
Spirituality is critical to mental health and positive worldview. I do not mean that you have to be religious — an atheist is spiritual if, for example, she feels connected to the wider world and shares love and compassion with groups of people. To me spirituality is about connection to a greater something. It’s about a push to transcend your personal boundaries. Its about a feeling of belonging. Its about having a sense of meaning and purpose. Many religions and other practices can therefore supply this critical mental health component. I will usually inquire about client’s belief systems and ask them to verbalize what is important to them. I’ll then look for opportunities to bring those values into use in life. This is most often key in depression and anxiety. Sometimes people will be doing everything they “should” be doing — and yet not feel happy. Reconnecting, through holistic counseling, with a sense of meaning and purpose, can do wonders.