What does holistic mean?
The definition of holistic is as follows: Of or relating to holism, Emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts. Concerned with wholes rather than analysis or separation into parts. Medically, it means of or relating to the the medical consideration of the complete person, physically and psychologically, in the treatment of a disease. So when you say “holistic healing,” you are referring to dealing with the entire person, not just their symptoms or one part of their body, mind or spirit. You are talking about the whole body, the whole mind, the whole spirit and even more, all of them together.
Why is the holistic approach different?
Doctors, therapists, counselors and most others in the healing profession generally focus on isolating and eradicating symptoms. That is to say, they only fix what is bothering you. They generally don’t find out why it is bothering you, unless finding it out is a matter of course (such as, if you want to treat a cough successfully you must find out why the patient is coughing). But even then, they often follow the “zebra” philosophy. There is an old law enforcement saying that goes, “If you hear hoofbeats in Central Park, don’t think zebras.” It means the answer is usually not the most complicated one. This is a wonderful philosophy but when it comes to healing, it is imperative to be sure that what you think is the problem is actually the problem. I myself almost died because of a “zebra diagnosis.” So did my nephew and my daughter. My nephew was diagnosed with constipation when in fact his appendix had burst and my daughter was not breathing in her sleep when she was an infant because of reflux and the doctor initially brushed off my concerns and refused to do testing. I myself was diagnosed with a bladder infection when in truth, my kidneys were shutting down. If the nurses and doctors had just listened and looked at more than just the easy things in each of these cases, misdiagnosis could have easily been prevented.
Is the holistic approach effective?
Yes, very. It is probably the most effective approach for therapy because it recognizes you as a whole person, not just a collection of symptoms and it recognizes the body as a whole of related systems and interdependent parts that all affect each other. If you go to a traditional doctor and say you have a headache, the doctor gives you a pain medicine and send you on your way. A naturopath or holistic healer looks at your entire life and sees what might be causing the headache and then bases suggestions and therapies on that. The doctor has alleviated the symptom. The holistic healer has addressed the disease. The problem with most non-holistic approaches is that they address symptoms and not the cause of the symptoms. This is why anxiety and depression are now seen as illnesses in their own right (which they’re actually not) rather than as symptoms of underlying problems (which they actually are).