Holistic therapy or medicine is a practice whereby consideration is taken for the mind, body, spirit, and emotions of the patient or client. ‘Holistic’ comes from the Greek word holos, meaning ‘whole’. Holistic therapists believe that their clients can achieve better health by improving the balance in their lives, and they make use of a variety of different treatments and techniques to help the individuals achieve this. Holistic therapists are often used to complement traditional medicine, even in cancer patients. Many holistic approaches have their roots in ancient Eastern health philosophies or the kinds of healing methods used before Western medical treatments.
The principles of holistic medicine
Holistic medicine is based upon the belief that unconditional love and support is the most powerful healer. However, an individual is ultimately responsible for their own health and wellbeing. The patient is considered to be a person, as opposed to a disease. Treatment involves identifying and fixing the cause of the condition, rather than simply alleviating its symptoms. For example, if a person is suffering from migraine headaches, a holistic therapist will consider all of the factors which may be causing them – such as diet and sleep habits, stress and personal issues, and their spiritual practices.
Why might I try holistic therapy?
There are many reasons an individual may be interested in holistic therapy or medicine. Patients may find themselves unwilling to try the treatment offered by an NHS doctor, particularly if it is something medicinally strong, like psychiatric medication. Alternatively, they may have already tried these treatments and found them unsuitable – for example, certain medicines produce unwanted side effects. Patients may also be on a long waiting list for treatment and need some support as soon as possible.
What are complementary therapies?
Complementary therapies can be used alongside conventional medical treatments. They may improve your quality of life or help you cope with side effects. Complementary therapies include acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic care, herbal medicine, massage therapy, and yoga.
What are alternative therapies?
Unlike complementary therapies, alternative therapies replace conventional medical treatments. They are usually more experimental and should be considered carefully by the patient. Alternative therapies include traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, herbal remedies like St John’s wort, laetrile, shark cartilage, and Gerson therapy.
What else will a holistic therapist suggest?
Holistic practitioners adopt a varied approach to treating patients. Aside from offering complementary and alternative therapies, they educate patients on lifestyle changes and self-care. This may include diet and exercise suggestions, psychotherapy, relationship counselling, and spiritual advice.
Finding a holistic provider
When choosing a holistic therapist, make sure you do your research. Ask around for recommendations and ensure that they are credible professionals. Find out as much as you can about the practitioner’s training, experience, and area of specialism. Research whether this person is associated with a professional organisation and whether they are affiliated with any hospitals or medical boards. A holistic therapist should also have the appropriate holistic insurance.
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