The Importance of Incorporating a Holistic Approach Into Your Practice

Posted by: Andrea Cashman on July 21, 2015 12:44 pm

healthI’ve always gravitated to looking at someone in their whole form so when I heard that I could utilize this to market and found my practice on this approach, I decided that that was what I wanted to do. The business name I chose was Holisitic Counselling Services and I chose this in part to reflect my values and to let clients know that I am open to viewing them as a whole person and practice in this manner.

The word holistic comes from the word “whole” and examines a person (or client) in terms of their mind body associations that also tie into their emotional and spiritual well-being. Mental Health, or health in general, depends on all these factors working together in the environment. The environment around the person can alter these factors. Your role as a psychotherapist is to not only focus on the client’s presenting problem but to see the client as a whole person and determine how the problem is affecting all aspect’s of their day to day life as well as what other positive or negative influences promote or diminish their well-being or mental health. No client wants you to focus on their issue exclusively. They also want to be seen as a person and validated as such.

There are certain categories that you may want to explore with your client while you discuss their presenting issue. These may include: Medical and other forms of treatment including psychiatric or psychological interventions, accommodation or living conditions, financial conditions, education and training, work and occupation, social relationship including familial, friendships and co-worker relationships, social, cultural or spiritual issues, and personal care or physical well-being issues.

For physical well-being, I explore my client’s sleep patterns, eating and drinking habits, exercise, hygiene, and how they cope with day to day stressors and with their presenting issue. How does the issue affect their physical and emotional self? Do they turn to positive or negative coping mechanisms? How does that affect their issue or life in general? For social relationships, I explore my client’s relationships with family, friends and co-workers. Are their any conflicts within these relationships? How effectively are they able to communicate their problem to the significant people in their lives? Do they surround themselves with supportive people or are they unfortunately in negatively draining relationships? Do they isolate themselves from others or are they actively social in many ways? In addition, are their any cultural or spiritual issues that affect their issue or vice versa? You’d be surprised how many clients experience existentialism when they come into session questioning their faith, their spirituality or the meaning of life after a significant trauma or event. Exploring the root cause of the issue may be beneficial to opening up further exploration.

I also view a holistic approach as helping clients achieve well-being by using conventional medicine or alternative therapies or a combination of both depending on the severity of the issue or their mental health. Alternative therapies can include massage, acupuncture, meditation and yoga etc., Conventional therapies are traditional medicine and psychotherapy.

Please share your thoughts, practices and questions around a holistic approach. I welcome your questions and feedback.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA