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Holistic therapy is typically delivered in combination with evidence-based treatments like MAT (medication-assisted treatment) and psychotherapies like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy).

Holistic therapies are grounded in the principles of holism. A holistic approach to therapy considers your body as a whole rather than as a series of unconnected body systems. According to holistic principles, the more the various systems in your body work together in harmony, the more robust your overall health and wellbeing.

When holistic therapy is applied to addiction treatment, the focus is on treating all parts of the person rather than focusing only on bothersome symptoms caused by substance use.

Let’s start with a more thorough holistic therapy definition.

What is Holistic Therapy?

Holistic therapy draws heavily from psychosynthesis, a therapeutic approach that emphasizes personal growth and development. An integrative approach, holistic rehab aims to understand the whole person instead of lasering in on specific symptoms.

During holistic therapy programs, treatment addresses the mind, body, and spirit. Many people unsure of what this approach to rehab involves ask, “What is holistic spiritual therapy?” This is simply one aspect of holistic therapy that helps you to incorporate your belief systems and spiritual faith, however you see it, when tackling problems in your life.

A holistic therapist adopts this integrated approach, helping you to better understand how problems in one area of your life can manifest as issues in other areas.

When applied to addiction treatment, a holistic approach consists of a variety of alternative, complementary, and holistic therapies delivered alongside conventional, research-backed therapies like MAT, counseling, and psychotherapy.

Holistic therapy helps you to confront your psychological, physical, and spiritual needs, providing you with a much deeper approach than one relying purely on medications and psychotherapy.

This review of studies evaluated many methods of addiction treatment. Researchers found that the effectiveness of treatment increased if a multi-dimensional, holistic was adopted.

Most health organizations and addiction experts agree that many interlinked factors contribute to addiction in the form of alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder. Given that consensus, it makes sense to pursue an integrated and multi-pronged approach to addiction treatment. Holistic therapy is intended to supplement traditional treatment rather than to replace it.

There are many different types of holistic therapy. Some of the most common include:

  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Yoga
  • Acupressure
  • Acupuncture
  • Guided meditations
  • Art therapy
  • Aromatherapy
  • Tai chi
  • Surfing
  • Hiking
  • Nutritional education
  • Biochemical restoration
  • EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
  • Herbal therapy
  • Hypnosis
  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Sports and exercise

What is a Holistic Therapist?

In order for a holistic program to be effective, the therapist needs to get to know you. A sense of mutual trust needs to develop for holistic rehab to perform properly.

A good holistic therapist will explore your concerns and goals, employing active listening. This means you can expect your therapist to summarize what you state in their own words to determine whether they understand what you mean. As this therapeutic alliance is established, you can work out the optimum course of treatment.

If you are thinking about engaging with a holistic therapist, here are some pointers to help you find the right one for you.

  • Don’t skip the research: Find out about the holistic provider you are considering. You should ask about their training and their experience to develop a rounded picture. Do they have a specialty? Inquire about their membership of any professional organizations or associations. Are they board-certified and are they affiliated with any hospitals? Taking your time at this stage could save you from a false start with a therapist inappropriate for your needs.
  • Look for a licensed therapist: Whether you find a holistic therapist through an online search or a referral, ensure they are licensed to practice holistic rehab.
  • Explore the different therapy options available: You must make sure any holistic therapy program aligns with your specific needs. If the program seems like a good fit, find out how the provider will address your needs, both through holistic therapies and conventional treatments or medications.
An image of a woman on the beach meditating | Holistic Therapy

How Holistic Therapy Works

Whether you need holistic therapy to treat addiction, mental health disorder, or a co-occurring disorder, the integrated approach can help in the following areas:

  • By treating the mind
  • By treating the body
  • By treating the spirit

By treating the mind

It is relatively straightforward to treat the body in the addiction recovery process. Withdrawing and detoxing from most substances take no more than a week or so. Treating the psychological aspect of addiction is more nuanced, though.

Your treatment team can utilize physical tests to evaluate physical problems and to work out the best treatment. The mind is more resistant to diagnosis and binary testing. Unfortunately, all addictions fundamentally impact the mind. To achieve meaningful and sustained recovery, it is imperative to address both the psychological and physical aspects of addiction.

The chronic use of any addictive substances alters brain function. If you have a loved one who seems unable to stop using alcohol or drugs despite a battery of negative outcomes, this is indicative of the compulsive need to use substances intrinsic to addiction. This compulsion stems from the brain changes that substance abuse triggers.

Recovery starts with detox and withdrawal. This deals with the physical component of addiction. Once you are substance-free, you have the firmest foundation from which to unpick the irrational behaviors and flawed patterns of thinking that might be blocking your recovery.

By treating the body

There are four main reasons for most people engaging with a holistic rehab program:

  1. For the treatment of substance use disorders
  2. For the treatment of alcohol use disorders
  3. For the treatment of mental health disorders
  4. For the treatment of dual diagnosis (addiction and co-occurring mental health disorder)

All of these issues affect the body in various ways. Additionally, physical dependence is also central to most addictions.

There are many ways to approach the physical treatment of addiction. Both alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder respond favorably to MAT (medication-assisted treatment). Several FDA-approved medications can minimize withdrawal symptoms and cravings. MAT can also help promote abstinence throughout treatment and into sober living.

When holistic therapy is applied to treating the body, there are three primary goals:

  1. Healing physical damage: Oftentimes, alcohol abuse or substance abuse leads to physical damage. Treating the body can help to trigger self-repair, even if this is not wholly effective. Holistic rehab can also strengthen your body, ensuring it can cope more readily with any future damage.
  2. Boosting overall health: You should find that the regular practice of any form of holistic therapy will help you to get fitter and healthier.
  3. Maintaining optimum health: If you continue engaging with holistic therapy as you move into day-to-day living, you will be better equipped to deal with any subsequent illnesses.

By treating the spirit

It can be challenging to define the spirit, arguably the toughest aspect to treat with holistic therapy.

The things that motivate you and the elements that make you the person you are – these intangibles are part of your spirit.

Your spirit can dictate how you view your overall purpose and your hopes for the future. Addiction often robs people of hope, routinely triggering depression. When this spirals into an ongoing absence of hope set against a flawed sense of purpose, recovery can seem like an impassable obstacle rather than a managing journey.

Those with firm existing beliefs may engage with a religious aspect of spiritual treatment. Others may find it is enough just to acknowledge the existence of the spirit.

What are holistic techniques, then?

Holistic Therapy Techniques

You can expect to encounter a variety of techniques in holistic rehab.

Your therapist will equip you with strategies to promote self-awareness and an understanding of the connections between your body, mind, and spirit.

Many holistic therapy techniques are grounded in the practices of bodywork and mindfulness.

You may also find your therapist uses techniques from CAM (complementary and alternative medicine). These techniques are designed to improve the mind-body-spirit connection and to promote relaxation. Practices include:

  • Breathwork
  • Meditation
  • Biofeedback
  • Acupuncture
  • Mindfulness
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Reiki
  • Hypnosis
  • Massage
  • Guided imagery

Many holistic therapists will also incorporate psychotherapeutic approaches like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) or person-centered therapy.

What to Expect in a Holistic Therapy Session

Here’s what to expect during your first holistic therapy session. Your therapist will:

  • Establish your present level of functioning
  • Develop your treatment goals

No route to holistic rehab is the same and the best treatment will be personalized. Your therapist will continuously evaluate your needs, tweaking the treatment plan as required.

How can you get started?

Holistic Therapy at Los Angeles Therapy Network

If you have been searching online for “holistic therapy near me”, shortcut the process by reaching out to Los Angeles Therapy Network.

Remember: there is no need for rehab to be boring or functional. California is one of the best locations in the U.S. for connecting with nature during the recovery process. From hiking and surfing to rock climbing and cycling, our therapists will help address all of your needs as you transition from addiction into sober living.

Even if you initially find that participating in outdoor activities is challenging and uncomfortable, you will pick up various skills you can use to cope with any roadblocks in your recovery without relapsing.

Another hidden benefit of holistic rehab is the way it can push you outside of your comfort zone, embracing new hobbies or activities that could provide you with powerful ways of dealing with life’s everyday stressors. The right holistic therapy can help you reignite your love for life, even during the demanding early phase of addiction recovery.Reach out to Los Angeles Therapy Network today at 833.604.1287 and we’ll connect you with a therapist offering both holistic and traditional therapies for a whole-body approach to healing.