Holistic psychotherapy, sometimes called holistic therapy, is a type of psychotherapy (talk therapy) that considers and treats the whole person, including their mind, body, spirit, and emotions. Other non-traditional methods and therapies are often used as part of holistic therapy alongside talk therapy.
This article will cover holistic therapy, conditions it treats, providers, treatment process, and more.
Definition of holistic psychotherapy
Holistic psychotherapy is a type of talk therapy that is based on the ideas of holistic psychology that the biological, psychological, and sociocultural components of each person come together to form the whole person. With this approach, all areas of a person and their life are considered and addressed together.
The idea behind this humanistic approach is that the individual parts that make up each person cannot be separated. The holistic mind-body relationship includes the interaction of the physical body with the external environment and the role of the brain in processing and interacting with the physical body and the external environment.
Conditions treated with holistic therapy
As holistic therapy is a type of psychotherapy, it can treat many different mental health issues. It can also be used as part of a treatment plan for physical health issues, such as helping you deal with the emotional component of physical health issues. In some cases, such as with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it can also help relieve symptoms.
Additionally, holistic therapy can be used to help improve overall health, well-being, and quality of life even when there are no physical or mental health issues to address. It is important to understand that holistic therapy is intended to be used alongside medical treatment, not in place of medical treatment.
Holistic therapy can be used for:
The holistic therapy process
The holistic therapy process depends on the medical professional providing the therapy and how it works. It also depends on the treatment methods in addition to talk therapy that are used with holistic therapy.
Generally, the process begins with an initial assessment during which the patient or client discusses with the provider what is going on physically, psychologically, and socially. The information discussed in this conversation helps guide a treatment plan based on the individual’s needs.
Who offers holistic psychotherapy?
Holistic psychotherapy, like other forms of psychotherapy, is delivered by mental health professionals. This includes psychologists and therapists. Licensed professional counselors and licensed clinical social workers can also provide holistic therapy.
Since professionals who provide holistic psychotherapy focus on connecting all of the components that make up each person, they may also have training and credentials in other areas. For example, there is growing evidence of the importance of low stress levels, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and sufficient quality sleep for health and well-being in general.
All of these areas are considered part of the whole person, so holistic therapy professionals may also specialize in areas that support them, such as yoga or diet and nutrition.
What it may include
The main method of treatment is talk therapy. However, a variety of different talk therapy methods can be used.
Additionally, the holistic nature of therapy addressing the whole person, including mind, body, spirit, and emotions, encourages the use of additional methods. This means that holistic therapy professionals can also use other methods that are not traditionally part of talk therapy.
Talk therapy methods
Talk therapy methods are the basis of holistic psychotherapy. The types of talk therapy used can depend on the holistic therapy professional, their training, and their specializations. It may also depend on the needs of the client or patient and what would suit them best.
Some types of talk therapy are more holistic than others and may be preferred by professionals who practice holistic psychotherapy. For example, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is a type of mindfulness-based psychotherapy and analytical body psychotherapy is a type of body psychotherapy.
Talk therapy methods include:
Other methods used with talk therapy in holistic therapy include mind-body practices and complementary and alternative medicine practices.
In some cases, professionals who offer holistic therapy may be trained and certified to provide other methods to clients or patients. Other times, the holistic therapy professional may work alongside primary care practitioners and providers of specific complementary and alternative medicine treatments, and serve as the person who knows when and how to include these methods in the treatment plan.
Other methods used with holistic psychotherapy include:
It is important to understand that research is limited regarding some of the complementary and alternative medicine and other methods used with holistic therapy.
Although the risk is generally low and healthcare professionals are careful not to recommend anything harmful for any given person, it is still possible for a person to respond poorly to treatment.
Everyone is different and has different risk factors, so care should be taken when deciding which methods to incorporate into a treatment plan.
Holistic therapy is a type of talk therapy that considers and treats the whole person and the interactions between mind, body and environment. This type of therapy can address a wide variety of mental and physical health issues, as well as medical treatment as part of a care plan. It can also help with life’s challenges and improve overall health and well-being.
The holistic therapy process depends in part on the practitioner and the needs of the patient or client, but it is conversation-based and may include other methods in addition to talk therapy. Other methods may include practices to support the mind and body, such as nutrition or meditation.
Although holistic therapy and the methods used with talk therapy may have benefits, research is limited and care should be taken when determining a treatment plan.
A word from Verywell
Holistic psychotherapy takes a comprehensive and holistic approach to the body, mind, and environment of care, including the use of talk therapy and other methods.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental or physical health issue, a life challenge, or would like to improve your overall health and well-being, support is available and holistic therapy can be a good option. Talk to a primary care provider or mental health professional like a psychologist or therapist to figure out how to get started.