Holistic therapy is a form of healing that addresses all aspects of the individual’s well-being: physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional. The goal of holistic therapy is to help the client achieve optimal wellness and health by bringing all parts of the mind, body, and spirit into balance.
A Brief History of the Development of Holistic Therapy
Holistic therapy stems from ancient roots dating back to the fifth century BC. Hippocrates, a Greek physician known as the father of modern medicine, believed that it was not enough to focus on just one aspect of an individual. He believed each person was made up of many parts working in accord with one another. He stressed the importance of understanding and establishing balance within the person. Hippocrates believed in the healing power of nature. He encouraged his patients to utilize self-healing efforts such as following a nutritious diet.
During that time and for centuries to follow, other physicians believed in treating only the physical aspect of an illness. As the 20th century began and the scientific revolution took place, health care became medically focused. The body and the mind were thought of as completely separate from one another. For example, issues with the body were treated with surgeries and drugs, and issues with the mind were typically treated with talk therapy. In the 1970s, medical and other healthcare professionals began to realize that treating only one aspect of the human body might help manage some of the issues but did not improve the person’s overall quality of life. Focus shifted back to the importance of holistic care, and in 1975 the National Conference on Holistic Health took place.
Different Types of Holistic Therapy
- Creative Arts Therapy – Creating art in any form is a healthy way of exploring and expressing emotions, coping with stress, developing self-awareness, and boosting self-esteem. Examples of different forms of creative art therapy include painting, drawing, crafting, music, writing, and dancing.
- Meditation – Although there are many different methods of meditation, all forms use the techniques of focus and mindfulness to help practitioners achieve emotional stability and mental clarity. Meditation decreases feelings of stress and anxiety, helps regulate emotions, improves sleep, and helps the person feel calmer.
- Exercise – There are many benefits to regular physical activity. It helps to relieve stress and anxiety, improve mood, boost energy, and improve overall well-being. Exercise takes many forms. It can be a brisk walk in the park, a workout in a gym, playing a team sport, swimming, or any other activity that gets you up and moving.
- Yoga – A combination of meditation and exercise, yoga helps to relieve stress and negative emotions while fostering a sense of self-realization, self-awareness, and self-control.
- Experiential therapy – This type of holistic therapy is an activity-based technique that improves coping skills and communication, restores psychological and physical health, and increases trust and overall feelings of well-being. Individuals use activities and tools to recreate and re-enact situations from their present and past relationships. Examples of experiential therapy include Equine Interaction Experience, adventure therapy, animal-assisted therapies, and role-playing.
Several other forms of holistic therapy include:
- Guided Imagery
- Relaxation therapy
The Five Aspects of Holistic Health
According to an article in The Well Essentials, there are five aspects to holistic health.
- Physical health can be supported by getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet, keeping blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day, limiting hydrogenated oil and processed foods, exercising regularly, not smoking, and limiting alcohol.
- Mental health can be supported by keeping your mind active. Challenge your mind with learning new things and problem-solving activities. Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants helps support cognitive function.
- Emotional health can be supported by practicing stress reduction and mindfulness techniques, keeping a journal of your feelings and thoughts, and getting therapy when you need it.
- Spiritual health can be supported by practicing your faith if you are religious, meditating each day, and spending time in nature.
- Social health can be supported by having in-person connections with family, friends, and community.
Holistic Therapy and Addiction Recovery
Holistic therapies play an important role in addiction recovery. They create healthy thoughts and practices to replace unhealthy ones. English Mountain Recovery uses holistic therapies in conjunction with medical assistance, 12-Step groups, and counseling. We know that holistic practices are essential and effective tools for a person’s lasting sobriety.
Do You Need Help?
If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol or drug addiction, you are not alone. Get the help you need by calling English Mountain Recovery, located in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. We will help you begin your journey to living a clean and sober life.
About the Author:
Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.