What Is Holistic Psychotherapy?

Holistic mental health therapy

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Holistic psychotherapy, sometimes referred to as holistic therapy, is a type of psychotherapy (talk therapy) that considers and treats the whole person, including their mind, body, spirit, and emotions. Other methods and non-traditional therapies are often used as part of holistic therapy alongside talk therapy.

This article will cover holistic therapy, the conditions it treats, providers, the treatment process, and more.

Woman sitting on a couch during a therapy session.

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Holistic Psychotherapy Definition

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 treated together.

The idea behind this humanistic approach is that the individual pieces that make up each person cannot be separated. The holistic mind-body relationship includes the physical body interacting with the external environment, and the role of the brain in processing and interacting with the physical body and external environment.

Conditions Treated With Holistic Therapy

As holistic therapy is a type of psychotherapy, it can treat many different mental health conditions. It can also be used as part of a treatment plan for physical health concerns, such as helping you cope with the emotional component of physical health challenges. In some cases, such as with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it may also help alleviate symptoms.

Additionally, holistic therapy can be used to help improve overall health, wellbeing, and quality of life even when there are no physical or mental health conditions to treat. It is important to understand that holistic therapy is intended to be used alongside medical treatment, not in the place of medical treatment.

Holistic therapy can be used for:

Mental Health Helpline

If you or a loved one are struggling with a mental health challenge, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

The Holistic Therapy Process

The process of holistic therapy depends on the health professional providing the therapy and how they work. It also depends on the treatment methods in addition to talk therapy that are used along with holistic therapy.

In general, the process begins with an initial assessment where the patient or client talks with the provider about what is going on physically, psychologically, and socially. The information discussed in that conversation helps to guide a treatment plan based on the needs of the individual.

Who Provides Holistic Psychotherapy?

Holistic psychotherapy, like other forms of psychotherapy, is provided by mental health professionals. This includes psychologists and therapists. Licensed professional counselors and licensed clinical social workers may also provide holistic therapy.

Since professionals who provide holistic psychotherapy focus on connecting all 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, healthy nutrition, and enough quality sleep in overall health and wellbeing.

All of these areas are considered part of the whole person, so holistic therapy professionals may also specialize in fields that support them, such as yoga or diet and nutrition.

What It May Include

The primary method of treatment is talk therapy. However, a variety of different talk therapy methods may be used.

Additionally, the nature of holistic therapy addressing the whole person, including the mind, body, spirit, and emotions, supports the use of supplementary methods. This means that holistic therapy professionals may also use other methods that are not traditionally part of talk therapy.

Talk Therapy Methods

Talk therapy methods are at the root of holistic psychotherapy. The types of talk therapy used may depend on the individual holistic therapy professional and their training and specializations. It may also depend on the needs of the client or patient and what would be best for them.

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

Other methods used with talk therapy in holistic therapy include practices that focus on the mind and body and complementary and alternative medicine practices.

In some cases, professionals who provide holistic therapy may be trained and certified to provide other methods to the 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 someone who is knowledgeable about when and how to include these methods as part of the treatment plan.

Other methods used with holistic psychotherapy include:

Warnings

It is important to understand that research is limited when it comes to some of the complementary and alternative medicine and other methods used with holistic therapy.

While there is generally low risk and healthcare professionals are careful not to recommend anything unsafe for any given person, there is still a chance that a person may respond poorly to treatment.

Everyone is different and has different risk factors, so care must be taken when deciding which methods to incorporate into a treatment plan.

Summary

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 treat a wide variety of mental health and physical health conditions, along with medical treatment as part of a care plan. It can also help with life challenges and overall health and wellbeing.

The process of holistic therapy 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.

While there may be benefits of holistic therapy and the methods used along with talk therapy, research is limited and care should be taken when determining a treatment plan.

A Word From Verywell

Holistic psychotherapy takes a complete and whole body, mind, and environmental approach to care, including the use of talk therapy and other methods.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental or physical health condition, life challenge, or is wanting to improve overall health and wellbeing, support is available, and holistic therapy may be a good option. Talk to a primary care provider or mental health professional such as a psychologist or therapist to determine how to get started.

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8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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