What is holistic therapy and how do its activities help you? Can anybody get holistic therapy or is it only effective for certain people? These and other questions are running through your head, and we’re here to help you sort through the misunderstandings, the myths and the truths. So please take in our extensive information about holistic therapy and move toward understanding why it’s such an important treatment method.
What Is Holistic Therapy?
Holistic therapy is something that is often misunderstood by many people. Many think it utilizes “wacky” alternative therapies that promise much, but don’t do anything. Or they think it is a form of natural therapy that shuns true medical science and promotes old wives tale-type cures. While it’s true that some forms of holistic therapy use alternative medicine and even natural treatments, it’s much more complex than those suggestions would indicate.
In the article “Principles of Holistic Medicine” written by experts at the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine, holistic medicine and therapy is described as the “…art and science of healing that addresses the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. The practice of holistic medicine integrates conventional and alternative therapies to prevent and treat disease, and most importantly, to promote optimal health. This condition of holistic health is defined as the unlimited and unimpeded free flow of life force energy through body, mind, and spirit.”
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That might sound a little bit new agey, but it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular treatment methods for addiction. Whether or not you believe in the “free flow of life energy,” holistic therapy is useful because it attacks your addiction on every possible level. You can’t just get help for your physical health in a holistic setting without receiving care for your mental health as well.
Principles of holistic medicine and therapies, as defined by the American Holistic Health Association, include:
- The use of safe and effective therapeutic options
- Integrating medical, educational, dietary, psychological, spiritual and physical healing methods into each treatment
- Trying to find the root of the disease, rather than just treating the symptoms
- Treating all diseases as a result of a dysfunction in the person, rather than a singular event
- Encouragement of patient autonomy and communication between physician and patient
- Unconditional love between patient, loved ones and the physician
- Supporting constant growth mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually of the patient
These principles have spread to substance abuse treatment due to their obvious effectiveness. Whether you use traditional medical cures or alternative treatments, holistic therapy is designed to manage every aspect of your addiction. No longer will you be given methadone and booted out of the clinic. Instead, you’ll be treated like a real human being with real problems.
How The Holistic Approach Fine-Tunes Recovery
To better understand holistic therapy and how it assists those in addiction recovery, let’s take a look at a method described in the paper “An Holistic Approach To Substance Abuse Treatment.” In this medical essay, the authors explore several different treatments and how they were adapted to the holistic model. For example, they discuss the way that individual, group and family therapy was paired with dance therapy, Tai Chi, art therapy and spiritual lessons.
In the essay, they state that: “Holistic approaches to addiction and alcoholism can be of great assistance throughout the stages of recovery. From detoxification to reducing stress and improving mental and physical well being, holistic approaches play a vital role in regaining personal balance… Recent scientific studies have demonstrated dramatically improved success rates with the addition of holistic treatment approaches.”
In the paper, they discuss how individual and group therapy intertwines with art therapy to help draw the cause of a person’s addiction to the surface. While the symptoms of addiction (such as withdrawal) were treated, the cause and the underlying root were focused on heavily. For example, individual therapy helps a person touch on personal issues that cause addiction and gives them the chance to work through each issue with a trained specialist.
Art therapy, on the other hand, enhances a person’s well-being by letting him express himself creatively. This helped boost self-esteem, enhance inner, personal monologue, and bring a greater sense of joy into his life. In the second chapter of the book Systematic Review And Economic Modeling Of The Clinical Effectiveness And Cost-Effectiveness Of Art Therapy Among People With Non-Psychotic Mental Health Disorders, art therapy was found to combat depression, anxiety, boost mood, decrease trauma symptoms, increase positive coping mechanisms and boost cognitive intellect.
These results were synthesized from multiple studies and helped show that these negative symptoms (all present in most addiction cases) were treatable with art therapy. This reality also extends to other alternative treatments offered in the holistic model, more of which we’ll outline below. The most important thing that you should take from this information is that the holistic model works and we know it will work for you.
Alternative Approaches That Are Often Integrated Into Holistic Treatments
Although holistic therapy requires traditional medical therapies; it also allows you to integrate a variety of alternative approaches into your treatment. These methods have been studied for decades and have shown effectiveness in treating various symptoms of drug addiction.
The following alternative approaches are among the most popular:
- Acupuncture – The ancient Asian art of needle insertion therapy has been shown to help reduce withdrawal and detoxification symptoms, while also managing the cravings and muscle aches that come with recovery.
- Hypnosis – Medical hypnosis varies from the theatrical stage variety in that it is used to impress powerful instructions directly into your subconscious mind. It can help eliminate your need for drugs and improve your self-esteem.
- Meditation and Prayer – These two methods are similar and require intense concentration on yourself in an attempt to reach a higher state of understanding. They often give people with addiction the focus and support they need to recover.
- Biofeedback – This fancy sounding treatment uses machines that test your brain waves and help you better understand the state of mind you experience when you are having craving symptoms. This can help you better fight this problem.
- Herbal therapy – Herbs such as ginseng, kaya and valerian are used to increase detoxification effectiveness, generate relaxation during anxious moments and as a sleep aid for drug abuse-related insomnia.
- Yoga – The ancient art of stretching, breathing, meditation and relaxation increases your flexibility, calms your mind, creates more patience and increases your personal understanding. It creates a sense of calm that gives you a great center from which to base your recovery.
Talk with your rehab specialist before implementing any of these methods in order to find one that works for you. There are a variety of requirements for performing many of these, such as the physical strength to perform yoga, that must be taken into account before jumping in fully. In this way, holistic therapies are like any medical treatment and ones that must be treated carefully and with respect.
Integrating Holistic Treatments Into Other Recovery Methods
Holistic treatment options, such as yoga and acupuncture, can’t be used as a singular treatment method. Remember, holistic activities are designed to be a supplemental part of addiction recovery, rather than a complete treatment. As a result, you and your therapist need to work hard to integrate holistic activities into your lifestyle and rehabilitation experience in order to maximize their effectiveness.
First of all, you need to start by improving your physical health. Obviously, traditional withdrawal techniques will be necessary, as will a strict and healthy dietary plan and regular exercise. Physical exercise promotes better mental stability by encouraging greater blood flow and increasing awareness of your surroundings. Yoga, jogging and swimming are crucial here.
However, you also need to manage your physical pain. Traditional painkillers are a major help, but yoga, stretching exercises and even acupuncture can help eliminate much pain. Integrating more natural treatments can help reduce or nix your need for medical painkillers and naturally promotes healing in a way that you can’t achieve with any other method.
Your emotional well-being must also be cared for via psychotherapy, mental health treatments, behavioral adjustments and relaxation techniques. Meditation goes so well with traditional treatments, as does journaling, because they force you to look at yourself honestly and appraise your addiction. They also help eliminate anxiety and other negative forces from your life, giving you a more balanced state of mind and a firmer grasp on reality.
One of the most neglected or misunderstood aspects of recovery is the spiritual element. Many people think that they must belong to a specific religion or that they must follow certain rules. This isn’t exactly right. The spiritual elements of addiction recovery, as enhanced by holistic treatments such as meditation and various spirituality sessions, are designed to get in touch with your own sense of spirituality.
Holistic Therapy Is A Vital Healing Tool
As you can see, holistic therapy is an engaging and powerful way to recover from addiction. It takes care of you with a totality you can’t receive with any other method. By giving you a loving helping hand, holistic therapy will pull you through the hard times.
If you or anyone you love is interested in using holistic therapy, please don’t hesitate to contact us today at TreehouseRehab.org. We can help you sort through your options and connect you with a therapy center that will give you the healing help you need to master your addiction and emerge from it as a fresh new person.
- American Holistic Health Association — Principles of Holistic Medicine
- National Center for Biotechnology Information — Systematic review and economic modelling of the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of art therapy among people with non-psychotic mental health disorders