Dr. Randi Fredricks, Ph.D.
The word holistic describes health care methods that include acupuncture, massage therapy, Reiki, naturopathy, and homeopathy. These practices attempt to bring harmony to the physical, energetic, and/or nutritional states. Holistic psychotherapy embraces some of the concepts of these various healing practices incorporating them into a psychotherapeutic model.
Holistic psychotherapy seek to bring balance between mind, body and spirit with respect to each person’s innate ability to heal. As with all psychotherapy, the primary focus of the psychotherapist or psychologist is the treatment of psychological and emotional pain that manifests in a psychiatric condition. It is the way in which holistic psychotherapies treat these disorders that mark their departure from conventional approaches.
Holistic psychotherapy is in alignment with the concept of psychosynthesis, a technique that addresses the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional person as a whole. Psychosynthesis is an approach to psychology that was developed by Roberto Assagioli. Assagioli believed that a person’s direct experience of the self is pure self-awareness, peak experiences, and self-actualization. He suggested that these higher experiences activate feelings from the lower unconscious, thereby creating anxiety as we feel wounded, fearful, angry, and depressed.
Holistic Psychotherapy and Psychospirituality
Holistic psychotherapy has a strong psychospiritual component. The term psychospiritual is defined in a variety of ways, beyond the literal and conceptual reunion of the psyche and the spirit. In human development, it can defined as the relationship between self-concept, emotional well-being, sources of inspiration, as well as the meaning and purpose in one’s life. Some clinicians have suggested that psychospiritual approaches to psychotherapy can help facility change on the deepest levels of consciousness
In a general sense, traditional psychotherapy focuses on thoughts and behaviors that are problematic, then interprets underlining meaning of these thoughts and behaviors and offers solutions that are practiced by the client as circumstances warrant.
In contrast, holistic psychotherapies foster growth and healing by attending to the synergistic relationship between all the ways we experience ourselves in the world; emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Holistic psychotherapists support balance and healthy interaction between the processes of the thinking mind, the feeling body, and the esoteric spirit to bring growth and healing.
Holistic psychotherapies are based in preventive medicine. Like any other psychotherapist, the holistic practitioner has the expertise to help individuals, couples, and families identify the source of psychological disturbance. Of particular importance in holistic approaches is the notion of providing guidance on how to develop preventive skills to protect against illness.
Holistic psychotherapies are not an eclectic mix of techniques learned in weekend workshops. They are a conscious and skillful blending of Eastern and Western methods of healing that safely support and encourage all ways of experiencing life.
Assagioli R. Transpersonal development: The dimension beyond psychosynthesis. London: The Aquarian Press; 1993.
Crampton, M. (1970). The use of mental imagery in psychosynthesis. In Core principles in psychosynthesis psychology (Vol. 3) (pp. 70–79). London: Institute of Psychosynthesis.
Evans J. What guides the guide? In: Evans J, editor. Soul making at work. London: Institute of Psychosynthesis; 2007. pp. 75–81.
Firman J, Gila A. Psychosynthesis: A psychology of the spirit. Albany: State University of New York Press; 2002.
About the Author
Randi Fredricks, Ph.D. is a practicing therapist, researcher and author specializing in the treatment of anxiety, depression, addiction, eating disorders, and related disorders. Dr. Fredricks is a best-selling author of several books on complementary and alternative treatments for mental health. For more information on Dr. Fredricks work, visit her practice website www.DrRandiFredricks.com.