Integrative Holistic Therapy
There are different ways to describe integrative therapy and holistic therapy. Sometimes the terms are used together as integrative holistic therapy while at other times they are used independent of one another as integrative therapy or holistic therapy.
Integrative therapy tends to be in reference to a progressive form of psychotherapy that combines different kinds of therapies and therapeutic tools to fit the specific needs of an individual client. Many view integrative therapy as a more inclusive and flexible, or holistic, form of therapy because it combines elements that draw from different schools of psychological theory and research.
In medicine, the term holistic has come to mean treatments that focus on a patient as a whole person, taking into account their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual beings as interconnected. Holistic therapy is not just about analyzing the emotional state of a person, or changing their behavior or way of thinking. It is looking at the person as a whole and how they interact with their world, as well as their overall sense of self and being. Holistic therapy approaches include guiding patients towards self-awareness and then helping them to lead their own journey through self-discovery and healing.
The term holistic therapies (plural) is often used in reference to a wide range of holistic therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic, mindfulness meditation, yoga, aromatherapy, herbalism, homeopathy and naturopathy, are just a few of the therapies that are often referred to as holistic therapies. Holistic therapies are grounded in integrative approaches that focus on the relationship between the mind, body, and spirit, or the person as a whole rather than just a symptom or problem that the person is having. Holistic therapies are often used in conjunction with one another.
Integrative psychotherapy methods can be used with children, adolescents and adults, in both individual and group therapy sessions. Integrative psychotherapy can be used to treat any number of mental health issues including but not limited to, anxiety, addiction, depression, eating disorders and personality disorders. Integrative psychotherapists match evidence based treatments to each client and each disorder, while keeping in mind that the problem is just a small part of the person as a whole.
One of the reasons it is said that integrative psychotherapy is more inclusive than more traditional forms of psychotherapy is because the patient plays a more active role in their treatment. Integrative psychotherapists come up with highly individualized treatment plans that take a patient’s physical abilities, spiritual beliefs, character, demeanor, temperment, preferences, and motivation level into account. Different psychotherapists have different styles and methods of treatment, as their patients’ have different situations and responses to (different kinds of) therapy. Some psychotherapists will use different approaches throughout a patient’s therapeutic process whereas others will use them as a single, combined form of therapy. How they do this will likely differ based on different patients’ needs.
Holistic treatments focus on the body as a whole being that is made up of integrated systems that are connected to their physical, emotional/mental, and spiritual health, rather than focusing on just a problem or symptoms of a problem that a person is having.
One example of a problem a person might come to see a holistic therapist for, is chronic pain. A holistic therapist might explore possible psychological sources of their suffering. Stress and anxiety are often contributing factors to pain and sometimes pain can be alleviated by dealing with emotional issues and traumas. In addition to looking at emotional and mental contributors to chronic pain, a holistic therapist may also explore with the client and teach them to recognize where in their body the pain originates and how it affects other parts of the body. They may look at factors such as bad posture, eating habits, the kinds of food a patient does and does not eat, repetitive stress, exercise habits, general activity levels, living environment and social-emotional relationships, etc. A holistic therapist may use cognitive-behavioral therapy to reduce triggers and unresolved issues.
The theory of psychosynthesis is based on the idea that all living beings naturally strive to become the fullest realization of both their bodies, minds, and spiritual selves. Psychosynthesis suggests that the way to grow is for individuals to foster and support this natural tendency. People can facilitate this for themselves through many avenues including but not limited to, self-reflection, talk therapies, and meditation. Psychosynthesis has foundations in both Eastern and Western health theories and practices.
Learn more about integrative and holistic therapy at Change Your Mind-Body Health