Holistic Therapy: Complementary Mental Health Treatments

Holistic healing therapies are complementary techniques that are used along with psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy to help patients better cope with their symptoms. With a wide range of options including meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and more, holistic therapy is versatile and can fit any lifestyle. It’s important to note that holistic methods don’t necessarily serve as a replacement for traditional treatment. Instead, they are meant to exist alongside other techniques to provide a whole-patient approach.

Holistic therapy helps patients not only get to the underlying root causes of their conditions, but it also teaches healthy coping mechanisms that promote inner healing. Ultimately, the philosophy behind holistic medicine is that people can achieve optimal health by gaining balance in life. When someone’s physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual health is affected, it negatively affects their overall health. Holistic healing therapies exist to bridge the gap between mind, body, and spirit to help people improve their overall well-being.

The Holistic Approach

According to WebMD, holistic medicine is based on the understanding that love and support are the most powerful healing mechanisms, and that individuals themselves are responsible for their own well-being. Principles behind holistic medicine include:[1]

  • Everyone has healing powers within themselves
  • Patients are people, they are not their disease/illness
  • Treatment of a condition involves tackling the root causes rather than just the symptoms

Rather than working to eliminate symptoms, holistic healing approaches focus on helping individuals deepen their self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-acceptance so that they can better manage their condition. Holistic therapy is used to treat a wide variety of conditions and illnesses, ranging from substance abuse and mental illness to chronic stress, trauma, and even physical health ailments such as cancer.

Another aspect of holistic medicine is preventative therapy, also referred to as basic wellness practices. The idea behind this is that if a person is actively taking care of their mind, body, and spirit, they will be able to prevent an array of ailments or worsening symptoms associated with pre-existing conditions.

Types of Holistic Therapy

In order to provide a whole-patient approach, holistic healing therapies address several aspects of life. As a result, there are many different kinds of holistic therapy.

Meditation

Meditation comes in many forms, but the most widely used is mindfulness meditation. Mindful meditation involves reaching a mental state that is fully focused in the present moment, allowing patients to better accept their feelings, thoughts, and sensations without passing judgment. Mindfulness techniques vary, but most consist of breathing exercises that help increase awareness of the mind and body. With growing research suggesting that meditation reduces stress and anxiety, promotes self-regulation and empathy, and improves memory and attention span, mindful meditation is becoming an increasingly popular practice for people who want to achieve optimal wellness.[2]

Yoga

Similar to, and often used in tandem with, meditation, yoga is another holistic stress-reduction technique that is used to treat many ailments, including depression and anxiety. Yoga is a practice that involves holding the body in particular positions and poses while focusing on one’s breathing and energy. A range of studies have proven that yoga reduces stress and anxiety by helping regulate the body’s stress response. As a result, yoga can help people manage symptoms related to stress, depression, anxiety, and even physical health issues, such as high blood pressure or heart rate.[3]

Tai Chi

Although tai chi was originally developed as a means of self-defense, it is now widely accepted as a form of exercise that is used to stress reduction and the treatment of other health conditions. Many holistic wellness experts describe tai chi as “meditation in motion,” as the practice uses gentle, graceful movements. As a low impact exercise that is accompanied by deep breathing, tai chi is known for a range of benefits, including:[4]

  • Reduced anxiety, depression, and stress
  • Mood improvements
  • Improved energy, stamina, balance, flexibility, and agility
  • Increased mental and physical strength
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Improved health including the immune system, blood pressure, perceived pain, and overall well-being.

Exercise and Recreation Therapy

Developing an exercise routine can help relieve stress, alleviate depression, and strengthen the body. Exercise is also known to help improve sleep quality and increase energy levels, which is why exercise and recreation therapy is a key component of holistic healing methods for mental illness. The key to exercise and recreation therapy is to find an activity that works best for each individual. Some may benefit from going to the gym or enrolling in workout classes while others prefer activities like horseback riding, rock climbing, hiking, or kayaking. When used in holistic therapy, exercise and recreation are usually done in groups to further promote interpersonal connection and relationship building.

Nutritional Therapy

Nutritional therapy further supports holistic methods as it is based on the idea that optimal health is achieved through nutrition and lifestyle. Of course, maintaining a healthy body and eating the right nutrients is important for the body, but it’s important for the mind as well. First, eating a balanced diet offers the body the nutrients that it needs to function properly. In addition, certain foods that are high in sugars or carbohydrates are known to exacerbate mood swings. Instead, by eating a clean diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and carbohydrates, people will find that their moods are better regulated and their symptoms are easier to control.[5]

Acupuncture and Massage

Acupuncture and massage help stimulate the nerves in the body in a way that relieves stress and promotes relaxation. As stress builds up over time, it may manifest as physical or mental health symptoms that make it difficult to achieve mood regulation. However, acupuncture and massage help restore a healthy flow of energy throughout the body to relieve this stress and the associated symptoms.[6]

Finding a Holistic Therapy Program for Mental Health

Many mental health treatment providers offer holistic therapy as part of their counseling programs. Although not meant to be used as a substitute for traditional therapies and medication, holistic healing therapies serve as a complementary method of treating mental health conditions, substance abuse, and so much more. By learning how to not only cope with emotions but how to restore a healthy balance in life, patients are able to better understand their needs and address their symptoms.

When combined with clinical and medical care, holistic therapy is a great way to treat mental health conditions of all kinds. If you or a loved one is struggling and is interested in hearing more about your treatment options, contact us today. Our trusted mental health professionals are standing by to assist you.

References:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/what-is-holistic-medicine#1
  2. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/less-stress-clearer-thoughts-with-mindfulness-meditation/
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/tai-chi/art-20045184
  5. https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-critical-role-nutrition-plays-in-mental-health/
  6. https://www.aiam.edu/clinical-services/acupuncture-massage-mental-health/

What are you struggling with?

There are many different forms of addiction. Get the information you need to help you overcome yours.

Find out more
Last Edited: December 17, 2019
AUTHOR Jeffrey Juergens About Sources
Clinically Reviewed: July 22, 2019
CLINICAL REVIEWER Theresa Parisi About

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Featured Treatment Centers

Nearly everyone has mental health concerns at some point or another. However, people who suffer…...

Read More

It’s not uncommon for people to equate Mindfulness with meditation and yoga. It’s true that…...

Read More

The 4 Key Principles of Mindfulness + How To Practice Them Today A lot of…...

Read More

WE'RE READY TO HELP YOU BEGIN A NEW LIFE