Sunday, June 21, 2009

Holistic Treatment

Because holistic wellness views illness as stemming from an imbalance between different areas of life, holistic treatment focuses on the whole person and not just on the body. Consequently, a wide variety of holistic practitioners can be used. These may include physicians as well as holistic practitioners in areas such as ayuveda, naturopathy, homeopathy, massage therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, nutrition, and neurolinguistic programming.

These holistic practitioners do not heal people, but rather help patients to heal themselves. All healing is self-healing. Bodies are built to be self-regulating and when in balance are capable of healing wounds, broken bones, infections, diseases and even cancer. Being out of balance makes the body prone to disease and prevents it from healing diseases in their early stages.

Holistic practitioners will often speak of dis-ease in the body in order to emphasize the loss of the natural state of ease that results from imbalance, and to de-emphasize the particular physical or mental disorder the client may have.

Your choice of holistic practitioners will likely depend on where you are experiencing the most difficulty in your life. If you have an acute or chronic disease you will certainly need a primary care physician. While naturopathic physicians may be able to oversee much of your care, in most countries only medical doctors can refer you to services or to others within the medical sector. If you can find a holistic medical doctor so much the better.

You should have a team of holistic practitioners, which may change as you do. Practitioners may work on specific wellness dimensions or be more global, but because the parts of your whole person are interconnected, an intervention in one dimension will have an effect in all the other dimensions. So theoretically you can start in any dimension.

In her excellent book Getting Whole, Getting Well: Healing Holistically from Chronic Illness Dr. Iris Bell presents a table of the levels of holistic care that lists the level of care options, the different holistic treatment options available in this level, and the world view assumptions that the care at each level is based on. I have listed the levels of care and beside each have put the types of holistic treatment options that Dr. Bell sees as appropriate within this level. (My additions are added in brackets at the end of each list of types).

Note that these levels of care do not all align with the wellness dimensions.

Biochemical Biological Care Level: Drugs, nutrients, botanicals, herbal medicines

Preventive Foundations Level: Exercise, diet and sleep (posture, breathing/breathwork).

Structural Manual Manipulation Level: Osteopathy, chiropractic, massage, (rolfing, postural reconstruction physiotherapy).

Mind-Body Level: Meditation, biofeedback, yoga, guided imagery, journaling (hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming, psychotherapy).

Subtle Energy Level: Therapeutic touch, healing touch, reiki, johrei, qi gong (cranio-sacral therapy, tai chi, pranic healing).

Constitutional Level: homeopathy, traditional chinese medicine, acupuncture, ayuveda (accupressure).

Spiritual Level: Intention, prayer (spiritual instruction, participation in a spiritual community).

Dr. Bell suggests starting with a healing intention, and then choosing which interventions to start with. This will be covered in the next posts.

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