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The power of holistic counseling for mental health

The power of holistic counseling for mental health

A therapeutic approach or modality is a perspective counselors and therapists can use to understand and work with their client’s presenting concerns. Holistic counseling, though, can be applied in almost any situation to make treatment more effective and impactful.

Holistic counseling looks at every area of a person’s life to provide comprehensive care and foster lasting growth and well-being in their mind, body, and spirit.

What Is Holistic Counseling?

Holistic counseling is a type of therapy that prioritizes looking at the whole person—their personality, circumstances, life, beliefs, medical history, etc. It is not an officially licensed discipline, but rather a kind of perspective that can be used alongside many other modalities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

Many therapists take a holistic approach to care, keeping all aspects of the client’s life and experiences in mind as they use more targeted modalities to treat the client’s specific concerns. Holistic therapy considers spiritual and physical health in addition to mental and emotional health, often incorporating aspects of religion, nutrition, or other elements that align with the client’s perspective and needs.

What Is Holistic Thinking in Simple Terms?

Holistic thinking involves seeing someone as a whole person rather than focusing on one facet of their life or one specific problem. Holistic thinking holds the belief that every part of something—or someone—is interconnected, working together to create the whole. 

In therapy, this thinking is aimed at improving someone’s overall life by covering all areas of health to foster improvement and well-being. It considers the connections between a person’s mental, spiritual, and physical health by paying attention to each part of the whole to pursue improved mental health. 

What Does a Holistic Therapist Do?

A holistic therapist focuses on assessing and treating all domains of the client’s life. This approach differs from other types of therapy in the emphasis on treating physical, emotional, social, and emotional well-being. These include the treatment of the mind, body, and a person’s belief in spirit. Suppose a client is experiencing physical anxiety symptoms or struggling to define their own spiritual beliefs. In that case, a holistic therapist will address these issues and offer support and tools to cope, rather than simply assessing how these situations might impact the main treatment focus.

What Is an Example of a Holistic Treatment?

An example of holistic treatment could be taking specific vitamins to help with ADHD symptoms. Though it may not work for everyone, a holistic therapist can suggest that a client take certain supplements to help their brain and body function better, potentially helping to reduce the intensity or frequency of ADHD symptoms.

Holistic therapists may also talk about balanced sleep, progressive muscle relaxation, and nutrition support for those with anxiety or depression.

What Are Some Examples of Holistic Therapy Techniques?

Examples of common techniques used in holistic therapy are: 

Each of these techniques is chosen and tailored to suit the individual. Many are integrated throughout multiple different types of therapy. However, all apply to holistic treatment due to their versatility, allowing them to be applied to various challenges and areas of life.

What Is the Difference Between Traditional Counseling and Holistic Counseling?

Traditional talk therapy and holistic counseling are often very similar. However, holistic counseling features additional care aspects that traditional therapy may not address. 

Holistic counseling is not just about the main issue, but also about strengthening other areas of life and incorporating physical and spiritual care into sessions. Much like traditional talk therapy, holistic care is just as much about immediate relief as it is about taking preventative steps to avoid future problems in specific areas. 

Holistic treatment interventions are tailored to the client, but have a wider focus and scope than other approaches. It seeks to help the client find ways to balance their life and provide support for the more direct solutions to big issues.

What Are the 4 Fundamental Components of Holistic Counseling?

Holistic counseling was created to address four kinds of concerns:

  • Biological: Bodily concerns, physical health
  • Psychological: Emotional concerns, mental health
  • Environmental: Concerns regarding one’s surroundings (physical and relational)
  • Spiritual: One’s personal philosophy/lifestyle choices

All of these factors are important in their own right, but they are all connected to each other as well. If one area is hurting or neglected, it can impact one’s overall well-being, but also the health of other areas. 

For example, if an individual is struggling with their physical health, their psychological health can be affected. In turn, if one’s mental or psychological health is strained, it can have an impact on their environmental well-being, causing their home to become disorganized or their relationships to suffer.

Conditions Treated with Holistic Counseling

Since holistic counseling is so versatile, it can be used to support people through many situations and conditions. If someone is feeling intense stress, for example, holistic counseling will focus on emotional relief as well as addressing the impact stress has on the body through stretching, progressive muscle relaxation, and other tools.

Holistic counseling can also build a solid foundation of knowledge and support in oneself, allowing for more targeted approaches to address larger, more specific problems. It can also be used as more of a framework, informing each type of therapy employed.

Benefits of a Holistic Approach to Mental Health

Holistic counseling is widely used in therapeutic practice today. One of its main benefits is that it can support long-term healing and solutions by establishing stability and equilibrium throughout all aspects of one’s life. It works to explore areas that may not always be considered to be connected to mental health but actually are—especially spiritual and physical wellness.

It also helps therapists build trust and rapport with their clients more effectively, as it helps them get a fuller picture of their client’s life and experiences. Holistic counseling can have an important beneficial impact on one’s therapeutic experience. It focuses on healing the whole person and fostering growth through comprehensive care. 

  • Medical writer
  • Editorial writer
  • Clinical reviewer
  • 2 sources
Kate Hanselman, PMHNP in New Haven, CT
Kate Hanselman, PMHNP-BCBoard-Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
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Kate Hanselman is a board-certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC). She specializes in family conflict, transgender issues, grief, sexual orientation issues, trauma, PTSD, anxiety, behavioral issues, and women’s issues.

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Caitlin Opland, LCSWLicensed Clinical Social Worker
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Caitlin Opland is a compassionate and empathetic Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with over 8 years of experience dedicated to helping individuals overcome mental health challenges. Specializing in anxiety, depression, substance use, grief, stress, and work/life balance, Caitlin believes in creating a safe and supportive environment where clients feel respected, valued, and understood.

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Hannah DeWittMental Health Writer

Hannah is a Junior Copywriter at Thriveworks. She received her bachelor’s degree in English: Creative Writing with a minor in Spanish from Seattle Pacific University. Previously, Hannah has worked in copywriting positions in the car insurance and trucking sectors doing blog-style and journalistic writing and editing.

We only use authoritative, trusted, and current sources in our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about our efforts to deliver factual, trustworthy information.

  • Seow, L. S. E., Sambasivam, R., Chang, S., Subramaniam, M., Lu, H. S., Assudani, H. A., Tan, C. G., & Vaingankar, J. A. (2021). A qualitative approach to understanding the holistic experience of psychotherapy among clients. Frontiers in Psychology, 12.

  • Bloch, M. H., & Mulqueen, J. (2014). Nutritional supplements for the treatment of ADHD. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 23(4), 883–897.

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