Holistic Therapy and Alternative Medicine Techniques for Addiction Treatment

Holistic medicine refers to the treatment of the whole person.1 A holistic treatment approach takes into account all aspects of a person, including physical, mental, social health, and more.2 Patients often find holistic treatments—like mindfulness, meditation, art therapy, etc.—beneficial when they are used in conjunction with evidence-based approaches.

This page will discuss holistic therapy for addiction treatment.

What Is Holistic Therapy?

Holistic therapy is a form of treatment that focuses on recovery in a comprehensive way. A holistic approach to therapy delves into the complex nature of conditions such as addiction, depression, and anxiety, using a variety of approaches that focus on both the mind and body.3

Holistic treatment is a response to what some people see as a more reactionary approach to health–the tendency to treat symptoms only, instead of finding and treating the root cause or addressing a confluence of multiple contributing factors.

Many people turn to holistic medicine in hopes that their practitioners will understand the complex nature of their illness, dig deeper into the source(s) of the issue, and focus their treatment on the whole person, not just the obvious symptoms.4

For example, someone with chronic pain might come to a holistic therapist to explore possible psychological sources of their suffering. Stress and anxiety can contribute to chronic pain, and if an emotional issue or past trauma is the source of that stress, dealing with it could alleviate chronic pain to a certain extent.5

What’s the Difference Between Homeopathic and Holistic Medicine?

Holistic medicine may be confused with homeopathic medicine because it sounds similar, but these terms are not the same. Homeopathy refers to the use of very tiny amounts of a substance for various purported health benefits. Homeopathic medicine is based on the idea that you can select a therapy based on how similar the symptoms produced by the remedy match the symptoms associated with the condition being treated. 1

Homeopathic treatment is hotly debated, with many researchers having found it to be of little to no use for serious illness and disease.12 Though homeopathy is not synonymous with holistic medicine, the concept may sometimes be incorporated into a greater holistic treatment plan.1

Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Drug Addiction Treatment

The acceptance of holistic treatment has been growing. As part of this, complementary and alternative treatments (CAM) are being utilized on an increasing basis. In 2007, 38.3% of adults and 11.8% of children accessed some form of complementary or alternative medicine, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.6

CAM encompasses many different types of therapies and treatments designed to treat more than outward physical symptoms. While often used interchangeably, complementary treatments refer to approaches used alongside conventional approaches, while alternative treatments refer to those used instead of conventional forms.6 It’s crucial for effective addiction treatment that holistic therapy is used as a complementary approach to evidence-based approaches such as behavioral therapy, peer support, treatment for co-occurring disorders, and more.7

Evidence of the effectiveness of complementary treatment approaches in treating addiction is somewhat limited; however, some of the results are promising and, anecdotally, many patients report that they find holistic therapy very beneficial.7

How Does Holistic Therapy Work?

Because mental and physical health issues may be influenced by a number of differing factors, and taking a broader look at the patient beyond the presenting symptoms can benefit the patient’s overall wellness and ability to recover.3,5

More patients and clinicians are recognizing the importance of holistic treatment. In fact, integrative treatment—which blends conventional and complementary treatment approaches— has grown in healthcare settings across the country.2

In addiction treatment, patients have reported that holistic therapy practices:7

  • Improve physical and mental health.
  • Help them cope with challenges and stressors, which can trigger relapse.
  • Enhance healing and self-care.

Types of Holistic Therapy

Holistic therapy may include any or all of these approaches, and more, individually or blended:3,8

  • Psychotherapy
  • Gestalt therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Breath therapy
  • Mindfulness awareness/meditation
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Guided imagery

The therapist is also likely to recommend any number of other holistic approaches, such as yoga, acupuncture, journaling, and more, depending on the needs and desires of the client.

Psychosynthesis Holistic Counseling

Psychosynthesis is a form of holistic therapy grounded in the idea that all living beings naturally strive to become the fullest realization of themselves, and the best way to grow is to consciously cooperate with this natural tendency.

Human beings are uniquely capable of understanding and facilitating this process through therapy, self-reflection, meditation, and any number of other methods one might prefer.9

The term psychosynthesis was coined by Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli in 1911. It was created as an attempt to fill gaps that many early mental health experts felt Sigmund Freud had left in his theories on the human psyche.

Assagioli felt that Freud had left out the “higher” aspects of humanity in his works and that his theories weren’t inclusive enough for the open and complex human nature. Psychosynthesis was therefore created as a concept that included many different aspects of human growth and remained open to any others that might be discovered.9

Naturally, psychosynthesis draws from both Western and Eastern theories on health. Eastern psychology has tended to focus more on the spiritual side of health, while its Western counterpart focuses more on personality and neurobiology.

The point of psychosynthesis is to combine these and all theories to ensure that clients experience total healing and are able to realize their full potential and express the “Self” in the purest, most natural way possible.

The Self refers to a person’s essence – who they truly are under all the baggage, expectations, and defenses that every individual tends to build up. With “compassionate attention,” clients are guided through talk therapy to rediscover the Self that is often hidden behind the many identities they may have formed for themselves.10

Acceptance and Criticisms of Holistic Therapy

The term holistic has historically been burdened with some negative connotations as, for some, it conjures an association it with controversial treatment types such as homeopathy.

However, widely accepted and accredited treatments, such as chiropractic and massage therapy, are forms of holistic medicine. Today, approximately half of all U.S. medical schools include discussion of CAM in their course offerings or clerkships.11

Acceptance has generally increased among the medical community in recent years, including the psychology community, as more studies come along that demonstrate the benefits of a holistic approach.

Most of the criticisms against holistic therapy and CAM focus on specific treatments that may lack evidence of effectiveness. Critics worry that individuals will seek out techniques that are not evidence-based over conventional methods that are scientifically supported.1

Controversial Holistic Modalities

There are a number of CAM treatments that have been criticized for faring no better than the placebo effect in experiments. These include:12

  • Homeopathy: The use of tiny, diluted amounts of substances that are thought to activate the body’s natural defenses, curing health problems without the side effects of common medications.
  • Reflexology: The theory that there are pressure points on the body, particularly the hands and feet, that can create physical changes in the rest of the body.
  • Magnetic therapy: The use of magnets, often placed in bracelets, headbands, or shoe inserts, to improve blood flow, based on the fact that the human body contains iron.
  • Reiki: A spiritual practice originating in Japan that involves placing hands on or just above the client’s body to transmit healing energy.

While holistic therapy is debated and poorly studied, many medical and mental health professionals recognize their potential benefits, and many more patients that speak to their effectiveness. Only you can determine whether a holistic treatment program is a good choice for you.

Holistic Therapy for Addiction Treatment at Greenhouse

There are several holistic therapy types that patients at Greenhouse Treatment Center can participate in. These include:

  • Yoga.
  • Meditation.
  • Tai chi.
  • Music and art therapy.

Drug Addiction Treatment near Dallas, TX

Addiction is a treatable condition. Through various types of rehab care, many people can get sober and lead fulfilling lives in recovery.

Call to start addiction treatment at Greenhouse—American Addiction Centers’ (AAC) inpatient rehab near Dallas or outpatient center in Arlington, Texas today. You can also verify your insurance coverage online using the confidential .

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