What’s all the Buzz about HOLISTIC Psychotherapy? Tuesday, August 24, 2010 By: Raizel W. Heitzer, NCC, LPC You can’t go anywhere these days without seeing the word: holistic medicine, holistic nutrition, holistic lawn care, holistic hair salon, holistic dog food! Holistic is often erroneously used as a synonym for natural or new age. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2010) has a 1926 definition of holistic as: “relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts” (n.p.). Sounds good, right? So how does this apply to psychotherapy? Cutting Edge Research Neuroscience is finally catching up to what psychotherapists and their clients have known for a long time – simply that good counseling can change the way the brain functions. The American Counseling Association’s December 2009 publication of Counseling Today states that “Counseling can support the building of new neurons! ... The bridge between biological and psychological processes is erasing the old distinction between mind and body, between mind and brain – the mind is the brain” (pp. 44-45). Holistic psychotherapy goes one step further and takes into account not only the mind/body connection, but how one relates to their internal as well as external worlds. It is not enough to look at one’s mental and physical health, but how all aspects of a person’s life contribute to their well being or lack thereof. A holistic approach recognizes that true health occurs when all our systems work in harmony. We cannot keep the different parts of ourselves separate from one another and remain whole. When people do this, they fragment. I’m sure you know people who lead double lives at the workplace and at home who can’t make the transition without a drink or two. Or somebody who seemingly has everything going for them, but has never been able to maintain a healthy weight. Or that incredibly beautiful, successful woman who keeps attracting jerks. Or what about all those fundamentalist preachers we’ve been hearing so much about who are secret homosexuals? In addition to a person’s emotional, mental, and physical circumstances, a holistic practitioner would look at what is going on in a person’s spiritual life. What is their work environment like? How much exercise do they get, and what kind? What type of relationships do they have with colleagues, friends, family? How do they spend their free time? What are their passions, dreams, ambitions? Are they involved in community? Do they have a connection to nature? How do they take care of themselves? How do their different selves manifest in various roles? Why does it work? Common knowledge suggests that the therapeutic relationship is the key. While this is true; if a person is not ready to do the work, then it won’t matter if they have the most perfect therapist in the world! When they are ready, then the therapeutic relationship is unlike any other. A sacred space is created where an individual or family feels safe to share and explore the deepest parts of themselves. It is an intimate journey between therapist and client where you have an authentic I/Thou relationship. It starts by exploring the predominant issues you bring to the table and works through what is underlying these as they play out in all the various aspects of your life. Something magical happens in the safety of the therapeutic relationship. You get a chance to experience an environment where you are totally supported and allowed to just be. As you let go of the person you think you should be, you create space to become wholly who you are. The therapist takes their cues from you and goes at your pace to help you discover and ultimately integrate hidden or disowned aspects of yourself. You gain insight and awareness into how your life has become what it is. Unconscious patterns come to light leading to positive change and transformation. Healing takes place on many levels: Ways in which you have given away your life force >>> are reclaimed enabling you to take ownership of what is yours while letting go of what is not yours to control. Behaviors that may have helped you survive in childhood, but are crippling you now >>> are identified, understood, and acknowledged for the good they did you. You are then able to learn new, healthy coping strategies. Old wounds and past trauma that have created actual physical illness and developmental blocks >>> can be released through body centered modalities freeing you to finally move beyond former limitations. Lifelong themes that keep repeating themselves in your life, relationships, and work >>> are explored and resolved leaving you empowered to create your own destiny and reach your full potential. Family blueprints that are unwittingly passed down from generation to generation >>> are uncovered so that you can break free of automatic patterns and establish authentic and intentional ways of relating. How is this sacred space created? You and your therapist come together in an atmosphere of complete trust and acceptance. You are honored for who you are right now ~ as a whole being in all your beauty, pain, and imperfection. You are not seen as someone who is broken, but as someone who has yet to manifest their full potential. You are a complete partner. Together you and your therapist discover what works best for you. You are empowered to take the lead and ask for what you want. Clear boundaries ~ your therapist is not your friend. This relationship is unique. For the time you are together you are the therapist’s only priority. Your health and well being are their top concern. You do not have to worry about taking care of them or interacting socially as you do in other reciprocal relationships. They do their own personal work and are trained to take care of their own needs. Complete confidentiality exists. Therapeutic sessions are legally privileged. Growth Self acceptance and learning to love yourself in the fullness of who you are right now is the key to growth and transformation. This work is of the deepest nature. You will discover how to honor yourself and live with authenticity, integrity and intention. Awareness begets mindfulness. Life becomes more spacious and you will see choice where you felt trapped before. Coming from this place of empowerment allows all aspects of your life to align and come into balance. It affects you in a truly holistic way. As you become more whole and integrated so does the life surrounding you. Things become clear that have once crippled you. As you release self judgment you are able to forgive yourself and others and move forward towards deep healing and sustained change. Health means that there is integrity in all aspects of your life and that these parts interact harmoniously. The affects are profound and healing takes place on many levels influencing your physical, emotional, and spiritual well being. Author : Raizel W. Heitzer NCC, LPC Raizel W. Heitzer practices in Louisville, CO. You can learn more about Ms. Heitzer here on the Find-a-Therapist.com Directory.