Therapy FAQ

What is Holistic Therapy and How Does it Work?

Holistic therapy offers a unique approach that goes beyond traditional therapy. It explores the full spectrum of well-being, intertwining the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our lives. Unlike conventional therapy, which focuses on treating symptoms, holistic therapy aims to uncover the causes of imbalance and distress while fostering self-awareness and self-care. Holistic therapy […]

Therapist Dr. Jaclyn Gulotta By Jaclyn Gulotta, LMHC
Woman using sound bowls in a therapy session.

Updated on Apr 30, 2024

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Holistic therapy offers a unique approach that goes beyond traditional therapy. It explores the full spectrum of well-being, intertwining the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our lives. Unlike conventional therapy, which focuses on treating symptoms, holistic therapy aims to uncover the causes of imbalance and distress while fostering self-awareness and self-care.

Holistic therapy guides individuals toward a harmonious and fulfilled state of being. By recognizing the role of our lifestyles, social environments, and personal beliefs in our overall health, it offers a comprehensive path to healing and personal growth.

In this exploration, we’ll examine how holistic therapy positively impacts mental health and how it serves as a dynamic alternative to traditional therapy methods.

The Holistic Approach to Well-being

Holistic therapy is sometimes called body-centered psychotherapy or holistic psychotherapy. Rather than just addressing a specific issue, holistic therapy integrates mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being into the treatment plan. This holistic health approach acknowledges the interconnectedness of different aspects of life, emphasizing equal attention for optimal function.

In holistic mental health care, the focus extends beyond the individual. It embraces the support and comfort of families and communities, recognizing that healing and well-being are a collaborative effort.

Rooted in empathy and understanding, holistic therapy nurtures an environment where every aspect of a person’s life is considered and cared for. It’s a transformative journey of healing that honors the complexity and richness of the human experience, aiming to uplift and empower lives.

Types of Holistic Therapy

You may wonder what makes an activity or practice “holistic.” The key is in the incorporation of multiple techniques that work together to support an individual’s overall well-being. Although many of these professionals refer to themselves as holistic therapists, others may refer to their specialties.

Integrative Therapy

Integrative therapy involves blending various therapeutic modalities to address an individual’s specific needs. This approach acknowledges that each person is unique and may benefit from a personalized combination of therapies to achieve optimal results.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, Gestalt therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, cognitive analytic therapy, and schema therapy are all examples of approaches that can be integrated into holistic therapy. They focus on understanding and changing patterns of thoughts, behaviors, feelings, and relationships. These therapies may use different techniques borrowed from various psychology modalities, such as mindfulness, role-play, or journaling, to help individuals develop new skills and coping mechanisms.

Mind-Body Therapy

Mind-body therapy involves the connection between mental components, the nervous system, and other physical functions. The goal is to promote overall wellness by addressing and managing both mental and physical symptoms. Mind-body therapies include:

These practices can help improve mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. They may also have physical benefits such as relieving pain and fatigue, improving mobility and sleep quality, lowering anxiety and stress, and enhancing the immune system and cognitive functions.

Somatic Therapy

Somatic therapy is sometimes referred to as body psychotherapy. It focuses on the connection between mind and body, using physical sensations to access and process emotions. This approach can be particularly helpful for individuals who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), struggle with unresolved emotional issues, or suffer from low self-esteem.

Some examples of somatic therapy include:

These techniques can help individuals release tension, trauma, and emotions that may be stored in the body. It can also help improve obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and promote resilience against stress from life-changing events.

Spiritual Therapy

As the Western world embraces alternative healing approaches, therapists recognize the significance of integrating spirituality into their work. Spiritual therapy acknowledges the role of spirituality in overall well-being, encompassing religions, beliefs, and connections to something greater than oneself.

Some examples of spiritual therapy include:

Through these practices, spiritual therapy improves mental health by promoting relaxation, reducing anxiety and depression, and providing support and belonging. It aids personal growth, tapping into inner strength and wisdom. Additionally, it’s effective for chronic health conditions, addiction, trauma, and grief.

Holistic Therapy Vs. Hobbies

Many people think hobbies and holistic therapy are the same. While hobbies bring joy and relaxation, they may not fully address mental health. Holistic therapy is a comprehensive approach to improving mental health, addressing physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs. Holistic therapists consider the whole person and strive for balance and harmony in their lives.

Katrina Kurtz, a licensed clinical professional counselor and registered art therapist, uses art to teach clients how to access their subconscious mind and address mental health challenges. She helps clients identify the root causes of their struggles, develop coping strategies, achieve mindfulness, and improve self-esteem.

Hobbies are enjoyable activities that people engage in to pass the time, providing temporary relief from stress. However, they don’t address deeper issues or offer long-term benefits for mental health. In contrast, holistic therapy focuses on creating sustainable and meaningful changes in an individual’s life, going beyond quick fixes.

Benefits and Effectiveness

Holistic therapy tackles mental health concerns from every angle, effectively addressing various symptoms and underlying causes. By integrating different therapeutic techniques and approaches, therapists can provide a more comprehensive and holistic approach to healing.

Understanding the Whole Self Through Holistic Therapy

Holistic therapy provides a comprehensive view of well-being, emphasizing the mind-body-soul connection. It deepens self-understanding by exploring how these elements impact overall health. This approach leads to insights into a balanced and harmonious lifestyle.

Learning Healthy Coping Strategies

Holistic therapy teaches effective coping mechanisms like breathwork and mindfulness. These practical tools help individuals better manage life’s challenges and stressors, building resilience and boosting confidence for future obstacles.

Customized Treatment for Individual Needs

Holistic therapies work well as a stand-alone treatment, but they can also function as complementary support to traditional evidence-based talk therapy and medication. Melissa Galica, a licensed professional counselor specializing in CBT and DBT therapies, notes that “combining holistic therapy and science-based behavioral treatments is indeed possible – in fact, it’s encouraged! This approach enables you to tap into the benefits of both worlds. On one hand, behavioral therapies help change negative thinking patterns or behaviors. On the other hand, practices like meditation and reiki offer ways for individuals to manage stress levels better and cultivate inner peace.”

Incorporate Techniques into Interests

Many people struggle with sticking to conventional therapy methods that may feel restrictive or uncomfortable. However, holistic therapy offers a more enjoyable approach by allowing individuals to incorporate techniques into their interests and hobbies.

Moreover, certain therapy skills such as emotional regulation and grounding techniques require practice to be effective. By integrating them into daily activities, individuals gain more opportunities to hone these skills, making it easier to implement them when faced with stressors.

Celebrating Successes

Holistic therapy celebrates every person’s progress, regardless of size. It recognizes that healing is a journey and applauds each step towards positive change. This approach encourages individuals to acknowledge their achievements and stay motivated to reach their goals. Every milestone reached is a cause for celebration, boosting self-esteem and helping individuals see their worth and potential.

Cost-Effectiveness of Holistic Therapy

Holistic therapy can be a cost-effective solution for managing various psychological and physical issues. This affordability allows more people to access and benefit from comprehensive care.

Benefits Extend to Other Areas of Life

Holistic therapy has a positive impact on mental and physical health. By treating the whole person, the intervention reduces stress, improves mood, and addresses chronic issues. It also fosters connections with others who share similar experiences, promoting a sense of belonging. This approach improves overall well-being in all aspects of life.

Is Holistic Therapy Right for You?

Holistic therapy may be a therapy option if you’re seeking a comprehensive approach to well-being that acknowledges and addresses physical, emotional, and mental health. To find out if holistic therapy is a good treatment option for you, Katrina suggests asking yourself these questions:

“Is it hard for me to sometimes verbally express myself to the fullest?”

“Do I seem to enjoy and relax when I’m using my hands and making something?”

“Do I feel a sense of accomplishment when I complete a task I can visually see being done, and get a sense of pride at the result of it?”

Factors to Consider Before Choosing Holistic Therapy

Aside from your specific needs and preferences, here are some important factors to consider before committing to holistic therapy:

  1. Personal values and beliefs: Holistic therapy includes practices like acupuncture, mindfulness, and herbal remedies. If you’re not open to new experiences or have conflicting beliefs, some alternative or holistic medicine options may not be suitable for you.
  2. Time and commitment: Holistic therapy typically requires multiple sessions and a considerable time and financial commitment. Before starting, it’s important to assess your resources and willingness to commit to this approach.
  3. Accessibility: In-person holistic therapies may not be easily accessible or may require travel. Online sessions can provide access regardless of location, even if they’re in New York or other parts of the world.
  4. Previous experiences with therapy: Holistic therapy offers an alternative to traditional therapy and medication-based interventions. If you’ve had negative experiences with psychotherapists or other medical professionals, discuss this with your healthcare provider to determine if holistic therapy is right for you.

Remember, holistic therapy isn’t a quick-fix solution but rather a comprehensive approach to improving overall well-being. It requires openness, commitment, and a willingness to try new things.

How Can You Find a Holistic Therapist?

If you’re interested in holistic therapy, you may want to research different types of holistic therapies that align with your needs and interests. Seek recommendations from your healthcare provider or search online for specialized therapists. Read reviews and reach out to therapists beforehand to ensure a good fit.

Holistic therapists may offer group sessions or workshops focused on mindfulness, yoga, or nutrition. These options are great for interactive and communal healing. If finding a local therapist is challenging, consider virtual therapy sessions. At Grow Therapy, we make it easy to connect with mental health professionals, including holistic therapists. You can browse profiles and learn more about each therapist to find the best fit for you.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and reach out for free consultation calls throughout the process. We understand that finding the right therapist is an important decision, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

FAQs

  • Acupuncture is a holistic therapy that uses needles to stimulate specific points in the body. It's based on traditional Chinese medicine and often treats pain, stress, and other health conditions. Other examples of holistic therapies include massage therapy, herbal medicine, and aromatherapy.

  • Holistic therapy is effective in improving overall mental health and well-being. It's important to note that results may vary for each individual, and finding the right type of holistic therapy may involve some trial and error

  • Absolutely! Holistic therapy is often used in combination with traditional therapy to provide a more comprehensive approach to mental health treatment. Both types of therapy can work together to provide a well-rounded and personalized treatment plan.

  • Holistic therapy can benefit anyone looking to improve their overall well-being. It can help manage stress, promote relaxation, and enhance self-awareness. Even those without diagnosed mental health issues can benefit from incorporating holistic therapy into their self-care routine.

About the author
Therapist Dr. Jaclyn Gulotta Jaclyn Gulotta, LMHC

Dr. Jaclyn Gulotta is a licensed mental health counselor with over 10 years of experience in the mental health field. She helps individuals overcome numerous issues, including stress and anxiety disorders, self-esteem issues, relationship issues, depression, behavioral issues, and grief.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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