What Is Holistic Psychotherapy?

Colorful healthy food.

The dictionary defines holistic as “characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole”. When referring to holistic medicine, the definition is as follows: “characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease.”

So a holistic perspective on psychology and psychotherapy perceives suffering and problems of the mind as intimately interconnected to your body. Meaning the state of your mind is influenced by the state of your physical body, and vice versa. Anyone who has eaten too much sugar or struggled with a sleepless night knows exactly what this means: the age-old triad of exercise, nutrition and sleep still holds true when it comes to mental health.

Buddhist psychotherapy is most certainly a type of holistic medicine. Rather than examining a client’s psyche as if it were an isolated silo, existing independently from the rest of the body – or the rest of one’s life! – Buddhist psychotherapy views mental health as inextricably linked to all physical, social, spiritual (financial, professional…I could go on forever) factors that make up the tapestry of one’s life.

Every aspect of your life affects how you feel psychologically: your job satisfaction, relationships, hobbies, sense of faith, community, the foods that you eat, the substances you use, the amount of sleep you get…it all impacts your mood.

So while mindfulness therapy is an extremely helpful and effective way to gain control over your mind and limit the amount of suffering created through thinking, learning how to be mindful or meditate or practice yoga isn’t enough. Self-care is a lifestyle, not an option for when things get really bad. The little seeds you plant and water each day – from the amount of rest you give yourself to pampering, quality time with friends or even a Netflix binge – add up and ultimately provide a sense of wellbeing.

So the next time you’re feeling anxious or depressed, take a look at your “life factors” – at all the pieces of your puzzle – and see where there’s room for improvement.

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