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What is Holistic Therapy?

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In contrast to Western medicine, much of which targets separate body areas, oftentimes advocating the use of pharmaceuticals as a first resort, holistic therapy is a generic term for any treatment or therapy that is intended to treat the individual as a whole on all levels - mind, body and spirit.

Many of these types of treatments date back thousands of years (the Chinese and Indian cultures are responsible for many therapies used today), yet new therapies and treatments are still in the development process at the present time.

Holistic health includes many of the various treatments that come under the “alternative medicine” rubric. However, it’s important to note that not all alternative medicine treatments are necessarily holistic.

Generally, conventional medicine seeks to treat the symptoms of a medical issue using drugs, surgery or physical manipulation. This can be distinguished from a holistic approach, which attempts to address the actual cause of the symptom itself.

Holistic therapists and practitioners strive to treat the "whole person" rather than merely treating the individual areas of the body where physical symptoms occur. In addition, self-care and preventative care are of the utmost importance to holistic practitioners, who recognize that our pain or discomfort is usually merely a symptom of some type of imbalance.

Imbalance could be a physical matter, such as the product of an unhealthy diet leading to an ailing physical body. Or, physical imbalance could be due to lack of exercise or sleep.

Imbalances may also stem from one’s mental, emotional, or spiritual needs not being met. All aspects of a person (mind, body, spirit, or emotions) are examined with holistic treatments and therapies.

And, holistic therapists or healers analyze the information gathered in its totality before suggesting potential treatments. Practitioners and therapists who utilize the holistic health approach include naturopaths, homeopaths, herbalists, acupuncturists, and nutritionists.

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EmpowHER Guest

A lot of my clients have become disappointed with physical therapy treatments that concentrate solely on an injured area, or clinics where they "turn" patients out similar to a "mill". I recognize how removed clients seem when they are in these hurried clinical settings.

The meaning of the term holistic is as follows: "focusing on the significance of the whole, as opposed to investigation or splitting up into components." The term whole originates from the root hael or hal, which signifies whole or healthy.

Those who look at themselves as holistic physical therapists, have at the core of their treatment this fundamental guideline: that each individual is naturally whole, and can not be merely separated into sections, that if a single section of the person is impacted by disease or injury, the whole person is impacted and this can not be ignored in physical therapy assessment or treatment.

Robin B., PT, DPT
Latest post: Top 10 PT Schools

December 11, 2012 - 1:16am
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