Holistic Counselling integrates science, psychology and spirituality into an integrated person-centred approach. No two people are exactly alike, so why should their treatment plan be the same?
In a general cultural sense, the word, ‘Holistic’ means mind-body healing, spiritual healing, herbal approaches and Eastern healing approaches, because, in comparison with treatment approaches for a problem or a disease, holistic approaches treat the person. Such approaches work on a person’s attitude towards their problem, rather than treating the problem directly.
For example, if someone got an injury, a holistic treatment approach would prioritise the victim’s feelings and suffering due to the impact of the injury, rather than only focusing on fixing the injury itself. The holistic approach is more whole and potentially offers a deeper and more permanent change in the overall well-being of a person.
Who does Holistic Counselling work with?
Holistic counselling takes “holistic” to mental health and it integrates scientific approaches with psychology and spirituality. This approach focuses on helping a person develop resilience and greater insight into their issues. It also allows for more possibilities for personal growth. Instead of treating ‘anxiety’ using evidence-based tools, a holistic counsellor would likely be curious about how someone deals with and responds to anxiety in general, before coming up with a suitable treatment plan.
No two people deal with anxiety the same way, a lot depends on what we learn about anxiety as children in our family systems. A holistic counsellor could ask, ‘How do you know when you are anxious?’ What happens in your body when you feel anxiety?’, ‘how did your family react to stress/anxiety when you were a child?’. A holistic counsellor would be curious about the origins of anxiety as well as how someone has coped with anxiety thus far before trying to fix anxiety.
The reason is that anxiety can be useful and a quick fix may be less valuable when it comes to learning coping skills. Instead of suppressing anxiety, finding safe spaces to connect and share emotional burdens would be a very useful skill, since the ability to connect, care and trust are invaluable when it comes to our odds of survival and quality of life. So why don’t more schools and families teach holistic tools to help kids to self-regulate? I think the answer lies in lack of regulation and evaluation when it comes to more holistic treatment approaches since Holistic treatment approaches are often rooted in cultural knowledge, rather than academic knowledge.
This is rapidly changing as holistic tools are becoming part of our cultural knowledge. For example, yoga, meditation and spiritual inquiry have become part of our cultural attitude towards self-improvement, which is a huge step forward.
Even though Yoga, Meditation and Spiritual faith can be part of a holistic treatment approach, they may not be sufficient alone to support a person with a mental health challenge. Holistic counselling recognises shades of grey, our imperfections and contradictions as part of the whole of who we are, not as something to be fixed, but as a normal and natural outcome of life as it happened. Holistic therapy in general is easier if approached with an open mind and a willingness to feel, but most of all it needs, a willingness to learn.