What is holistic therapy?

Written by Katherine Nicholls
Katherine Nicholls
Therapy Directory Content Team

Treatment for the body, mind, spirit and emotions, holistic therapy simply refers to treating the whole person rather than individual symptoms. Also widely known as CAM – complementary and alternative medicine – holistic practices look to help people regain physical and energy balances within the body.

What can holistic therapy help with?

Holistic therapies have been effectively used for centuries and can play an important role in maintaining good health and overall well-being. Rather than addressing individual symptoms, a holistic therapist will look for the underlying cause by considering physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual states of health and well-being.

‘Holistic’ comes from the Greek word holos, meaning ‘whole’

This approach is being used increasingly by those wanting to find more balance and harmony within themselves. A therapist can help to restore the body’s natural balance, leading to a more sustained and rewarding quality of life.

We cannot live a happy and meaningful life if we are disconnected and fragmented. This is why it is so important to look at all the elements of health simultaneously. Holistic therapies can provide support with:

  • Physical health: bodily aches, chronic pain, illnesses, tension, fatigue and diseases.
  • Emotional health: feelings such as anger, sadness, or worry.
  • Mental health: including conditions like depression, anxiety and high stress.
  • Spiritual health: feeling empty, lost or incomplete.

What are the benefits of holistic therapy?

Holistic therapy can help with a number of physical and psychological concerns, from muscular aches and pains and hormonal imbalances to improved sleep and mental clarity. As they are often deeply relaxing, holistic therapy treatments can also be a treat for those who want to increase their self-care.

Holistic therapies have gained popularity, especially among those looking to manage chronic stress. Taking time out for holistic therapy treatment can help individuals to manage stress; aiding relaxation and improving longevity.

What are the different types of holistic therapy?

Holistic therapists may be qualified in multiple disciplines and make use of a variety of techniques to help their clients. But, it is also common for practitioners to offer a specific type of holistic therapy, and to specialise in that field.

Some of the more well-known types of holistic therapies include:

  • Reflexology: applying pressure to and massaging certain areas of the feet, hands and ears. It aims to encourage healing and relieve stress and tension.
  • Massage therapy: using manual, hands-on movements and manipulation of the soft tissues and muscles in the body, to promote healing and enhance a person’s overall well-being.
  • Acupuncture: having very fine needles inserted into various points on the body to stimulate nerves in your skin and muscles, producing different effects.

To find out more about the different treatments you could benefit from, browse our list of holistic therapies.

In holistic therapy, a lot of focus is placed on the individual taking responsibility for their own well-being. In that respect, holistic therapists tend to concentrate on educating clients about lifestyle changes and self-care practices that they may undertake to promote balance and wellness.

How does holistic therapy complement other treatments?

It’s important to remember that holistic therapy doesn’t negate or disregard Western medicine; holistic therapy can work alongside conventional medicine in a complementary manner. For this reason, the term holistic therapy is often used interchangeably with ‘complementary therapy’.

For instance, while medication may be part of a person’s treatment, a holistic approach may include other treatments such as acupuncture or reflexology to address unresolved issues and triggers.

Increasingly, we are discovering that health is truly holistic. We are healthy and happy when our physical body, mind, emotions and soul are all in alignment. 

Our body knows how to heal itself

You may wish to visit a holistic therapist as a complement to seeking traditional Western medical advice. You may also wish to work with a holistic therapist if you are looking for advice on how to make small changes to promote a healthier lifestyle and restore a sense of balance in your life. 

Holistic therapies are natural and often non-invasive, so they tend to be suitable for all ages. Depending on which holistic treatment you choose, treatments can help you to relax, alleviate stress as well as ease a wide range of physical or emotional symptoms.

Is holistic therapy spiritual?

The term holistic therapy spans a variety of treatments. Some of these may have spiritual connotations, such as Reiki and Ayurveda, while others may not. The level of spirituality brought into the treatment may also depend on the practitioner themselves and how they like to work.

If spirituality is something you want to ensure is a part of your treatment (or is omitted) it may be worth talking this through with your practitioner before booking an appointment. 

Your next steps

If, after reading this, you’re feeling ready to start your holistic therapy journey, here are some next steps we advise:

  • Identify what you would like holistic therapy to support you with. What are you hoping holistic therapy will help with?
  • Ask yourself which type of holistic therapy would suit your needs best right now.
  • Use our search tool to browse therapists listed with us.
  • Read more about them, their skills and experience on their profiles, to understand if they could be a good fit for you.
  • Contact the therapist and set up a consultation or book a session.

If you have any other questions about holistic therapy, visit our FAQs section or get in touch

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