If you’ve suffered from drug or alcohol addiction or a mental health issue, then you are probably familiar with therapy. In fact, more and more Americans are enrolling in therapy for a wide range of reasons, from wanting to work on a romantic relationship to processing trauma. The standard “image” most people have of therapy is an individual session, usually with a couch, a sympathetic ear, and tissues. And this is certainly a common, and important form of therapy! However, in the world of mental health care, there are a wide range of techniques used to help people recover from whatever is ailing them. One of the most effective in healing all aspects of the individual is holistic therapy.
What is Holistic Therapy?
The term “holistic” means whole. Holistic therapy is essentially an umbrella term that includes techniques that treat the entire individual rather than just one aspect, such as the physical manifestations of their illness. While every aspect of treatment is important, holistic therapy recognizes that they are all connected, and combines care for each part of the individual, looking at them in their entirety. Holistic therapy can include medical and psychiatric care, individual and group therapy, vocational support (such as resume building and career counseling), physical therapy (like chiropractic work and massage), and alternative therapeutic methods.
Forms of Holistic Therapy
Holistic therapy can take on many different forms. Examples of holistic therapy include the usual repertoire, like individual and group counseling and medical care (including medication management), as well as alternative techniques, such as:
- yoga and exercise classes, like dance and aerobics
- meditation groups and mindfulness exercises (this includes guided meditations and breathwork)
- massage and chiropractic work, as well as physical therapy
- aromatherapy (the use of essential oils and smells to facilitate healing)
- biofeedback (measuring the body and brain’s response to different stimuli in order to help patients learn how to manage anxiety and other distressing reactions)
- music therapy
- art therapy
- vocational counseling, such as interview practice
- nutrition counseling
- experiential therapy, such as psychodrama groups and adventure outings like nature walks
- reiki and energy work
- crystal healing
- spiritual counseling
- And many more!
One of the major benefits of holistic therapy is that, by definition, it includes caring for an individual’s mind, body, and spirit. For this reason, treating any and all aspects of the patient in order to help them heal entirely is considered holistic therapy.
Benefits of Holistic Therapy
The reality is that addiction and alcoholism harm every part of a person. Substance use disorder has the potential to create or exacerbate mental illnesses and psychiatric conditions, harm family and romantic relationships, destroy careers and finances, and harm the organs and vital functioning of the body. For many people, it also causes a loss of connection between them and their spirituality. Holistic therapy addresses each one of these concerns.
Healing the whole person lays the groundwork for lifelong, fulfilling recovery- a life that is happy and purposeful, beyond simply abstaining from drugs and alcohol. For example, massage and chiropractic work can improve blood circulation and reduce pain, helping individuals with chronic pain conditions manage their injuries and illnesses without the use of narcotics. Practices like yoga, meditation, and aromatherapy can reduce anxiety and boredom and alleviate many of the mental and even physical symptoms of post-acute withdrawal symptoms, reducing the risk of relapse.
Vocational training can help patients become self-sufficient again, repairing the financial damage that may have been a consequence of their addiction. Spiritual counseling can help recovering individuals to establish a connection with a higher power, which can aid them in long-term sobriety. Other forms of holistic therapy, such as biofeedback, nutrition counseling, and art therapy, can help individuals repair their minds and bodies and find healthy outlets for their emotions. All of these benefits are crucial aspects of early as well as long-term recovery.
Addiction affects the entire person. The symptoms and consequences aren’t just restricted to physical harm. Holistic therapy is an avenue through which people can heal, not only through breaking their addiction to a substance but through addressing every aspect of their health. For this reason, a holistic therapy approach allows patients in treatment for addiction to truly reclaim their lives and make a path to a better future.