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  • Writer's pictureRenee Lyon

Holistic Therapy: What It Is, Who It's For, & How It Works

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

In the fast-paced world we navigate, a yearning for holistic well-being has become increasingly prevalent. Beyond conventional medical interventions, individuals seek transformative journeys that integrate the mind, body, and spirit.

This is where holistic therapy emerges, providing an interconnected approach to healing.


In this post, you'll find a complete guide to holistic therapy: the definition, the benefits, who it can help, how it works, and how to access it.

My services at Truepath Counselling will be described as well. I hope you find this information helpful in your search for healing and growth!


About Holistic Therapy

Holistic therapy isn't a mere collection of alternative practices; it's a philosophy acknowledging the intricate interplay between various facets of our being. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the origins and popularity of holistic therapy, understand its principles, and examine its applications in helping you to overcome mental health difficulties, life transitions and improving your overall health and wellbeing.


What Is Holistic Therapy?

Definition:

Holistic therapy is a transformative approach, acknowledging the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit, tailoring treatment plans to individual needs by addressing root causes, and fostering collaboration between traditional and alternative approaches for optimal well-being.

It's not a one-size-fits-all approach, but a personalized journey recognizing the uniqueness of each individual.


Principles:

At its core, holistic therapy operates on three principles:

  • Wholeness: Acknowledging the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit.

  • Individualization: Tailoring treatment plans to specific needs, addressing root causes.

  • Integration: Fostering collaboration between traditional and alternative approaches for optimal well-being.


A group of individuals practicing holistic meditation in a field on a sunny day

Origins and Growing Popularity

Tracing Historical Roots

To grasp the essence of holistic therapy, let's journey back in time. Its roots can be traced to ancient healing traditions worldwide, laying the foundation for the holistic approach embraced today. From Ayurveda in India to Chinese medicine, ancient systems viewed the body, mind, and spirit as interconnected entities. In Canada, our Indigenous peoples have long understood the therapeutic benefits of integrating techniques that take into account our connection to spirit, our body, our mind and our heart, as well as our connection to each other.


Influence of Traditional Medicine Systems

The resurgence of interest in holistic therapy can be attributed to its deep connection with traditional medicine systems. As people seek alternatives to conventional treatments, holistic therapy draws inspiration from time-tested practices, blending ancient wisdom with modern scientific understanding.

Post-COVID-19 Surge in Interest

The global pandemic prompted a profound shift in our collective consciousness, emphasizing the importance of holistic well-being. With increased stress and uncertainty, individuals turn to holistic therapy to reconnect with themselves, find balance, and foster resilience. We realized how interconnected we really are. We were also forced to go within ourselves, to spend time with ourselves. It forced us to re-evaluate our relationships and what we value. This time was more important to our evolution as spiritual beings than we might realize.


Benefits and Effectiveness of Holistic Therapy

Holistic therapy, with its emphasis on the interconnected nature of mind, body, and spirit, yields many positive benefits across various facets of well-being.


Here are some of the key benefits of holistic therapy:


Anxiety Reduction

  • Practice: Meditation, yoga, physical exercise.

  • Outcome: Improved awareness of thoughts and emotions, ability to regulate breathing and physical responses to anxiety.

Improving Overall Mood

  • Practice: Meditation, yoga, physical exercise, breath and bodywork, talk therapy.

  • Outcome: Calmer nervous system, feeling heard and understood, tools for managing distressing thoughts and emotions.

Processing Trauma

  • Practice: Bodywork, somatic experiencing, traditional therapy techniques, mindfulness, yoga, exercise, journaling, expressive therapies.

  • Outcome: Improved ability to tolerate distressing emotions, process past experiences from another perspective, calm and reset the nervous system.

Emotional Regulation

  • Practice: Mindfulness and expressive therapies.

  • Outcome: Fosters awareness of emotions, providing constructive outlets for expression.

Pain Management

  • Practice: Mindfulness, meditation, expressive therapies, yoga, breath and bodywork.

  • Outcome: Improved ability to guide focus, improved body awareness and ability to manage distressing thoughts and emotions, ability to calm and reset the nervous system.

Sleep

  • Practice: Relaxation techniques, mindful breathing, and a bedtime routine.

  • Outcome: Improved sleep quality through holistic practices.

Improved Attention, Memory and Cognitive Function

  • Practice: Meditation, exercise, yoga, mindfulness

  • Outcome: Improved ability to guide focus, calm anxiety and improve awareness

Stress Reduction

  • Practice: Meditation, yoga, and mindfulness.

  • Outcome: Equips individuals with tools to manage stress effectively.

Self-esteem

  • Practice: Addressing the whole person and encouraging self-discovery.

  • Outcome: Positive impact on self-esteem through holistic approaches.

Development of Healthy Habits

  • Practice: Regular exercise, mindful eating, and self-care practices.

  • Outcome: Beyond symptom management, instilling habits for sustained well-being.


Who Can Benefit From Holistic Therapy

General Life Challenges

Holistic therapy is beneficial for individuals facing various life challenges, including stress management, emotional regulation, and overall well-being. Holistic therapy proves to be a versatile approach, effectively addressing a spectrum of issues. Its broad applications include pain management, mental health disorders, and co-occurring conditions.


Mental Health Challenges

Holistic therapy tailors solutions for individuals facing mental health challenges, such as anxiety, depression, stress-related disorders, and trauma recovery.


Trauma & Addiction Treatment

At the heart of any addiction is trauma. Holistic therapy plays a crucial role in addressing the complex relationship between addiction and mental health disorders that result from trauma. By integrating holistic approaches, therapists provide a more comprehensive solution for individuals dealing with co-occurring conditions.


Holistic therapy excels in recognizing and addressing the interconnected nature of addiction. By considering social, medical, psychological, and environmental factors, therapists develop holistic treatment plans that promote lasting recovery.



An assortment of crystals, showcasing a spectrum of colors and textures, reflecting light in a harmonious display of natural beauty.


How Does Holistic Therapy Work?


At the heart of holistic therapy is open communication and collaboration.

Professionals work closely with individuals, crafting individualized treatment plans that may include traditional therapies, alternative modalities, and lifestyle interventions.


These plans consider preferences, goals, and unique challenges, integrating a combination of holistic approaches tailored to specific needs.


Examples of Holistic Therapies Used in Mental Health Treatment

Traditional Psychotherapy:

  • Definition: Talk therapy exploring thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

  • Application: Integrating holistic principles for a comprehensive healing experience.

Mindfulness:

  • Definition: The practice of being fully present and engaged in the current moment.

  • Benefits: Reduces stress, improves focus, enhances emotional regulation, reduces chronic pain and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Yoga:

  • Definition: A mind-body practice combining physical postures, breath control, and meditation.

  • Benefits: Enhances flexibility, reduces anxiety, and promotes relaxation.

General Exercise:

  • Definition: Physical activity promoting overall health and well-being.

  • Benefits: Boosts mood, improves sleep, and contributes to a sense of accomplishment.

Expressive Therapies:

  • Definition: Creative approaches like art, music, or dance therapy facilitating self-expression.

  • Benefits: Provides a non-verbal outlet for emotions, fostering self-discovery and healing.

Bodywork:

  • Definition: Therapies focusing on the body-mind connection.

  • Application: Massage, chiropractic care, breathwork and somatic experiencing.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM):

  • Definition: Integrative practices beyond conventional medicine.

  • Application: Acupuncture, herbal remedies, shamans, spirituality and energy healing.


Ongoing Emergence of Holistic Therapy Research

Holistic therapy is a growing area of study as we learn more about how the mind, body and spirit work together to keep us healthy. Stay informed about the latest developments in holistic therapy research for continuous growth and understanding. Reputable journals, online publications, and academic papers are useful resources to stay updated on the evolving landscape of holistic approaches.


A hand holding a meditative pose with a beaded bracelet.

What to Expect in Holistic Therapy


Holistic therapy brings forth some distinctive characteristics that set it apart from traditional therapeutic approaches.


Here's what you can expect in holistic therapy:

  • There will be more emphasis on the interplay between our body, mind and spirit.

  • We can focus on more alternative forms of healing. Ie. forms that are not based on the Western medical model per se.

  • Spiritual concepts such as our connection to a higher aspect of ourselves are used as a resource to be accessed.


Similarities with Regular Therapy

  • Collaborative goal-setting and personalized treatment plans.

  • Emphasis on empowering individuals with tools for self-regulation through mindfulness practices, expressive outlets, and holistic habits.


Other Forms of Holistic Therapy:

  • Reiki:

    • Energy healing promoting relaxation and balance.

  • Acupuncture:

    • Traditional Chinese medicine technique stimulating energy flow.

  • Aromatherapy:

    • Utilizing essential oils for emotional and physical well-being.

  • Meditation:

    • Various techniques cultivating mental clarity and peace.


A woman recieving holistic therapy treatment in a bright and sunny room.

Finding a Holistic Therapist


Choosing the right holistic therapist is crucial for a harmonious and effective therapeutic relationship.



Tips for Finding a Holistic Therapist:

  • Check on qualifications, alignment with individual needs, and experience in relevant areas.

  • Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or healthcare professionals.

  • Utilize online resources, directories, and search online.

  • Gauge the therapist's effectiveness through client reviews and testimonials.

  • Schedule an initial consultation to discuss goals and assess the therapist's approach.


Emphasis on Training and Credentials:

Prioritize therapists with specific training in holistic modalities and verify their credentials through certifications from reputable holistic therapy organizations and educational institutions.


Holistic Therapy at Truepath Counselling

At Truepath Counselling, we embrace a holistic approach that goes beyond conventional methods, integrating complementary therapies for comprehensive well-being.



Therapy Session:

  • Traditional psychotherapeutic conversations to help reduce stress, increase self esteem and improve relationships.


Intuitive Card Reading:

  • A holistic tool using oracle and tarot cards providing insights into emotional and spiritual aspects of your life. This tool is used to help you gain access to your own intuitive guidance.


Spiritual Path Guidance:

  • Tailored guidance for a deeper connection with your spiritual journey.


  • Accessibility and convenience with counseling sessions offered in-person or via phone.




Holistic and complementary therapies at Truepath Counselling are always seamlessly integrated with evidence-based methods, enhancing the efficacy of our treatment services.


A woman holding tarot cards performing a tarot card reading

Frequently Asked Questions:


What should I expect in the first session?


The first session involves an initial evaluation to understand your background, challenges, and goals. Collaborative goal-setting with the therapist defines achievable goals for your holistic therapy journey.


I prefer a conversational style when doing assessment and evaluation. I want us to get to know each other in a relaxed, easy way. We decide, together, what route feels most comfortable for you.


How long will it take before I notice improvement?


The effectiveness of holistic therapy varies among individuals, influenced by factors like individual differences, consistency, and engagement in therapy sessions.

In other words, it really depends on the issue(s) you are working on, how much effort you put in in session and between sessions, how often you attend therapy, and how ready you are to heal. Some people notice improvement after one session. Most people notice improvement after 4-6 sessions. Some people notice gradual improvement over time. There are many variables that affect this timeline.


Is holistic therapy recommended as part of a regular wellness regimen?


The skills you learn in holistic therapy will be an excellent compliment to your existing wellness regimen. Holistic therapy is useful in helping you develop and sustain a wellness regimen if you don’t currently have one, as well.


Is holistic therapy helpful for anxiety and depression?


As discussed previously, many strategies used in holistic therapy are excellent for helping to improve anxiety and to reduce symptoms of depression. It is always advised to have your general practitioner involved in your overall care if you suffer from severe anxiety or depression.


Conclusion

In conclusion, holistic therapy provides a transformative approach to healing—addressing the interconnected dimensions of mind, body, and soul. Throughout this guide, we've explored the origins and growing popularity of holistic therapy, its principles, and how it collaborates with traditional and alternative approaches. From addiction treatment to mental health support, holistic therapy offers a comprehensive and personalized journey.


Next Steps

Embark on your journey towards lasting well-being with Truepath Counselling. Explore the transformative possibilities of holistic therapy—nurture your mind, body, and soul for a harmonious and balanced life.



Takeaways

As we wrap up, let's highlight the key takeaways from this guide to holistic therapy:

  • Holistic Therapy Principles: Recognizing wholeness, individualization, and integration form the foundation of holistic therapy.

  • Diverse Treatment Approaches: From mindfulness to expressive therapies, holistic therapy encompasses a variety of techniques tailored to individual needs.

  • Positive Impacts: Holistic therapy fosters emotional regulation, stress reduction, and self-esteem, leading to the development of healthy habits for long-term recovery.

  • Evidence-Based Effectiveness: Research supports the positive impacts of holistic approaches on anxiety, pain, trauma, and overall treatment outcomes.

  • Truepath Counselling Integration: Truepath Counselling seamlessly integrates holistic and complementary therapies with evidence-based methods for a comprehensive healing experience.


Remember, holistic therapy is a personal journey, and finding the right therapist is key to a successful experience. Explore, engage, and embrace the transformative potential of holistic therapy for lasting well-being.


Bonus: Daily Holistic Well-Being Techniques

Here are some daily holistic therapy techniques you can get started with today!

  • Morning Meditation:

    • Begin your day with a short meditation for mindfulness.

  • Grounding Practices:

    • Connect with nature through practices like walking barefoot on grass.

  • Breathwork Exercises:

    • Incorporate simple breathwork exercises throughout the day for relaxation.

  • Start a daily gratitude log:

    • List 3 things you are grateful for, everyday. Doing this actually changes the neurochemistry of your brain and helps reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms.

  • Journal daily to help process thoughts and emotions.

  • Write down affirmations and intentions to set your day up for joy and success.


Recommended Books & Resources:

  • "When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress" by Dr. Gabor Mate

  • "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle

  • "The Artists Way" by Julia Cameron

For more information about holistic therapy, spirituality and healing, take a look at my list of recommended books.

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