Tuesday, May 26, 2009
This post is provided to help explain what might be considered alternative and holistic treatment approaches for mental health concerns. These approaches can include natural biochemical-related therapies like diet and nutritional supplements, energetic therapies, such as homeopathy, acupuncture, yoga, reiki, and energy psychology, and psychological and spiritual therapies, such as psychospiritual counseling, hypnotherapy, cognitive therapy, emotional release therapies, family therapy, psychodrama, expressive therapies, music therapy, and more.
Holistic refers to treating the whole person - body, mind, emotions, spirit, environment, and social systems. Alternative typically refers to therapies that are not part of existing convention or mainstream approaches to treatment. Conventional treatment appproaches are biased toward pharmacological approaches and cognitive-behavioral therapies, even though there is much evidence that these approaches are not the best long term approach for addressing mental health challenges. Therapies that explore spiritual and transpersonal aspects of the psyche are generally shunned within medical treatment models, as these are difficult to empirically measure in controlled studies and are therapies that can't be mechanized or applied uniformly to each patient. Additionally, the validity of some of these alternative approaches challenges dogmas and assumptions that are promulgated by psychiatrists and physicians who follow the standard medical treatment paradigms. If psychospiritual approaches, energy healing methods, or homeopathic remedies resolve patient conditions then the claims that a genetically-based biochemical imbalance is causing the problem and requires medications to treat that imbalance are claims which must be called into question.
The holistic approach sees all the levels of a person as interrelated, with disturbances on one level affecting other levels of functioning. To foster balance it helps to address as many levels of our being as possible. Thus, diet and nutrition can be explored to help directly foster balance at the physical level, while hypnosis and energy healing methods can be used to transform the subconscious and shift energy patterns that influence metabolism and biochemical processes. Psychospiritual counseling can be offered to help a person build self-esteem and shift unhealthy beliefs while finding faith and meaning in life. Social support can be accessed and family systems addressed to help build a social environment that supports health and well-being rather than contributing to stress or dysfunction.
A typical medical approach might only offer a quick diagnosis and then ongoing medication treatment, with little or no effort to treat the various factors that might be contributing to stress and imbalances. To resolve mental health issues we need to address the factors that foster these difficulties. Merely labeling and suppressing symptoms is a costly approach for both our personal finances and our personal well-being. Ideally, people would be fully recovering from health challenges and putting doctors and health care practitioners out of business! Our current health care system does not design itself to put itself out of business, however - in fact, our health care system seems to continually grow and pharmaceutical businesses continue to expand. Thus, we will need to look at holistic approaches and more in depth alternatives to truly restore our health and well-being.
Jed Shlackman, LMHC, C.Ht. is a mental health counselor, hypnotherapist, and energy healer in Miami, FL.
Visit Jed's site at www.phinsights.com