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  • Writer's pictureIsabella Maire

What is a Holistic Approach to Mental Health

holistic yoga

Everywhere you look, whether it's on the news, or on social media, there are constant reports of a new "fix it all" technique to help you be cured of your mental illness. While the amount of new fads may become overwhelming, one that we would like to highlight is the holistic approach to mental health counseling.


What is a holistic approach?

A holistic approach to life and to various services is not anything new. To have a holistic approach towards anything is to look at something as "…wholes or… complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts" (1). Thus, taking a holistic approach towards a person is to take into account all parts of them - their lifestyle, circumstances, environment, social circle, emotional/mental state, physical health, spirituality, etc. Holistic approaches have been used in cultures like eastern medicine practices for centuries, and have been more accepted and used in mainstream therapies as that information of the benefits has been shared. 


Holistic Approach to Mental Health

Traditional mainstream therapies and their interventions/treatments have historically focused on providing care towards specific symptoms and in dealing with only a few problems that a person might be facing. A holistic approach to therapy not only seeks to treat the mental/emotional states of a person, but also to look at the root cause of the symptoms and treat the person in their entirety.


Here's a fictitious example of how a therapist may provide a holistic approach to a person's treatment. Aaron, a 35 year old male, has symptoms of depression and has been struggling for over a year. He's tried a few different therapists already, and was even on some medication, but it didn't work. He's been in and out of jobs and has been struggling to pay rent on a monthly basis. His girlfriend left him a few months ago and he hasn't fully processed the breakup.


With traditional therapy, the goal of the therapist is to help Aaron learn to manage his emotions and be able to process the events going on in his life. A holistic approach focuses on Aaron as a whole. Not only would they focus on his depression, but the therapist may also refer him to housing assistance to help with rent. They could also help him set goals to find a stable, well-paying job. They may go online with him to job searches to help him see options and to process how he feels about that.  They could help him start with the basics such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle by incorporating exercise, sufficient sleep, and good eating habits to ensure that his body is able to function well.


A holistic approach acknowledges that systems within a person's life are interconnected and intertwined, so a symptom doesn't necessarily always have only one source, but could result from multiple facets of a person's life.

man looking at lake

What are the benefits of a holistic approach to mental health? 

With the holistic approach, there are many benefits. Northern Kentucky University has been implementing holistic approaches within their nursing program and have found some benefits to be (2):

  • Improvements to diet and physical health 

  • Teaching a person how to shift their perspectives on certain things

  • Learning how to manage stress 

Research also shows that by implementing holistic approaches within addiction counseling could also lead to (3): 

  • Higher rates of program completion 

  • Treating depression and anxiety 

Overall, a holistic approach is focused on providing long term recovery when it comes to your mental health. 

What does a holistic approach look like? 

When a therapist implements a holistic approach to your treatment, they are tailoring it to your needs and values. Some of the ways they can help the entire you would be to invite you to meet with a nutritionist to improve your physical health. Other ways would include  teaching you how to practice yoga and mindfulness techniques to help stay relaxed and focused. They can add teaching social skills to support you in  having  a strong social circle. Sometimes they will refer you to meeting with specialists in specific areas to support you in different areas of growth and learning, like an accountant or a college academic office to talk about options. 

The thing with a holistic approach is there’s no one way to implement it. Just as every person is different, so should they be treated according to their needs. 

woman meditates holistic health

Reach out 

Here at Xenia, our therapists will always look to tailor support for your specific needs. Whether that means implementing various approaches or simply focusing on the mental/emotional aspect of a treatment, we promise that they will always strive to help you with their knowledge and abilities. Reach out today to schedule an appointment! 


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