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What is Holistic Counselling?

Health & Wellness
Last Updated May 30, 2023

What is Holistic Counselling?

Coined from the Greek word, "holos", meaning "whole" or "complete", holistic therapies approach disease and disorders as parts of a greater whole. Rather than treating just the symptoms, a holistic practitioner looks deeper and tries to uncover underlying causes. Holistic counsellors look at the interconnectedness of the body, mind and spirit to help facilitate wellness.

Holistic counselling uses an integrative approach to healing the mind, while supporting the client's spiritual health in the process. A health professional specialising in this discipline takes into account the client's life experience, emotional health, and the effects of their behaviours and circumstances to understand the root of the problem within psychological and spiritual contexts.

What's the Difference Between Holistic Counselling and Traditional Counselling? 

Half the time, a typical counselling process involves mostly listening on the part of the practitioner. They would listen without passing judgement on to the client as the latter talks about their difficulties in life. Then, the counsellor guides the client in uncovering their innate wisdom and resources to resolve their issue. Because they've trained in advanced listening skills and techniques, the practitioner can easily pick up on the strengths of the client. They will take note of these and then empower the client to use them to develop effective coping strategies that will help them move past their problems and towards their goal.

Holistic therapy sessions are quite similar in that they, too, are done in a private and non-judgemental environment. However, a holistic counsellor employs education in addition to listening to their client, to facilitate their healing. Mental health professionals who are well-versed in the holistic approach to counselling know that using meditation therapy, relaxation techniques and stress management skills, through various activities that may take place during the session helps the client reconnect with their inner strength and regain control of their life.

Benefits of Holistic Counselling

Holistic counselling is a unique approach to therapy that focuses on treating the individual as a whole, rather than merely addressing symptoms or specific issues. This integrative method considers the interconnectedness of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of a person's life. By taking this comprehensive approach, holistic counselling offers several benefits that can enhance overall wellbeing.

One of the primary advantages of holistic counselling is its emphasis on personalized care. Instead of relying on a one-size-fits-all approach, holistic counsellors tailor their techniques and interventions to the specific needs of each individual. This individualised attention ensures that clients receive targeted support and guidance, leading to more effective outcomes.

Holistic counselling also fosters self-awareness and self-empowerment. By exploring various aspects of life, such as relationships, career, health, and spirituality, individuals gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their place in the world. This heightened self-awareness allows them to make more informed decisions, build healthier relationships, and cultivate a stronger sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Furthermore, holistic counselling promotes holistic health. It recognises that mental and emotional wellbeing are closely interconnected with physical health. By addressing all these aspects, holistic counselling can help alleviate stress, reduce anxiety and depression, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall quality of life.

Another key benefit of holistic counselling is its long-term impact. Rather than providing temporary relief, holistic counselling aims to equip individuals with tools and strategies that they can apply in various aspects of their lives. These skills can include:

  • Mindfulness practices
  • Stress management techniques
  • Effective communication strategies
  • Self-care routines

By developing these skills, individuals can continue their personal growth and maintain positive changes even after the counselling process concludes.

What Techniques Does a Holistic Counsellor Use? 

Holistic counselling is a versatile approach that incorporates a wide range of techniques and modalities to address the interconnected aspects of an individual's well-being. These techniques aim to promote healing, personal growth, and self-awareness. Let's explore some of the common techniques employed in holistic counselling:

  • Psychotherapy is an umbrella term for a wide range of complementary therapies used in the treatment of a variety of mental health conditions. A holistic psychotherapist may follow a formal framework of techniques as part of a holistic approach to counselling. Many holistic psychotherapists help their clients explore the subconscious and unconscious aspects of the self or personality through behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy and acceptance therapy, to name a few.
  • Mindfulness is a cornerstone of holistic counselling. It involves cultivating present-moment awareness and non-judgmental acceptance of one's thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. Holistic counsellors may incorporate mindfulness meditation, breathing exercises, or body scan techniques to help individuals develop a deeper connection with themselves and their experiences.
  • Energy healing modalities, such as Reiki, acupuncture or chakra balancing, are used by holistic counsellors as these practices are based on the belief that energy flows through the body and disruptions or imbalances in this energy can lead to physical or emotional distress. By restoring the flow of energy, these techniques aim to promote healing and restore balance.
  • Body-centered therapies, such as somatic experiencing or body psychotherapy, focus on releasing stored tension and trauma from the body. Through techniques like breathwork, movement and body awareness exercises, individuals can explore and heal emotional wounds that are held in the body.
  • Creative expressive therapies are often incorporated in holistic counselling. Creative and expressive modalities, such as art therapy, music therapy or dance therapy, provide individuals with alternative ways to express and explore their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. By engaging in creative processes, individuals can tap into their innate creativity and gain insights into their inner world.
  • Holistic lifestyle coaching provide guidance on lifestyle factors that contribute to overall wellbeing. This can include advice on nutrition, exercise, sleep hygiene, and stress management techniques. Holistic lifestyle coaching aims to support individuals in making positive changes in their daily lives that align with their physical, emotional and mental health goals.
  • Hypnosis is sometimes used to explore deeper levels of the subconsciousness, where memories of past events are deeply embedded.

These and many other techniques are employed, but the emphasis in holistic counselling is always on facilitating self-discovery and self-healing. Holistic counsellors often say that they enter into a partnership with a client and assist them in accessing their own inner wisdom rather than imparting wisdom or acting as if they know more about the client's life. 

Most holistic counsellors have a wide range of expertise. Naturopathic medicine, spiritual counselling and crystal healing are just some of the complementary therapies in which they specialise.

Integrating Holistic Approaches

Holistic counselling takes a comprehensive approach to wellbeing, recognising the interconnectedness of various aspects of an individual's life. By integrating multiple dimensions of health, including physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing, holistic counselling provides a more holistic and effective therapeutic experience. Let's explore how holistic approaches are integrated within this counseling framework:

Addressing the Whole Person

Holistic counselling goes beyond focusing solely on the symptoms or challenges presented by an individual. It considers all aspects of a person's life, including their physical health, emotions, thoughts, relationships and spiritual beliefs. By addressing the whole person, holistic counselling recognises that different areas of life can impact overall wellbeing. This integrated perspective allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the individual and facilitates targeted interventions.

Recognising Mind-Body Connection

Holistic counselling acknowledges the intimate connection between the mind and body. Emotional and psychological factors can have a profound impact on physical health, and vice versa. Holistic counsellors help individuals explore and understand these connections. By promoting awareness of how thoughts, emotions and beliefs can manifest in physical symptoms, holistic counselling supports individuals in achieving optimal health and wellbeing.

Incorporating Mindfulness and Self-Reflection

Mindfulness practices are often integrated into holistic counselling. Mindfulness involves bringing one's attention to the present moment with an open and non-judgmental attitude. Through mindfulness, individuals develop self-awareness and gain insights into their thoughts, emotions and patterns of behavior. This self-reflection allows for a deeper understanding of oneself and supports personal growth and transformation.

Emphasising the Role of Spirituality

Holistic counselling recognizes that spirituality is an essential aspect of many people's lives, regardless of religious affiliation. It acknowledges the significance of spiritual beliefs, values, and practices in shaping a person's wellbeing. Holistic counsellors may encourage individuals to explore their spiritual dimensions and incorporate practices such as meditation, prayer or connection with nature to foster spiritual growth and resilience.

Collaborative and Holistic Treatment Planning

Holistic counselling involves collaborative treatment planning between the counsellor and the individual. The treatment plan takes into account the unique needs, preferences, and goals of the individual, as well as the various dimensions of their well-being. By considering all these factors, holistic counselling ensures that interventions are tailored and relevant to the individual's holistic health.

How Holistic Counselling May Help You

Holistic counselling can be used alongside conventional treatments or as a stand-alone treatment for a mental health condition. It does not have any harmful effects, but instead it relieves the adverse effects of standard medications and improves the quality of life. Holistic counsellors can address an array of mental and emotional health problems that eventually affect the physical body when left untreated such as depression, anxiety, trauma, addiction and suicidal thoughts among others. Holistic counselling may help you achieve:

  • Greater self awareness and self acceptance
  • A more peaceful, centred approach to life    
  • Greater health and vitality
  • Emotional well being
  • A deepened sense of spirituality
  • A greater ability to cope with traumas such as death, divorce and abuse
  • An enhanced feeling of optimism and self esteem

Finding the Right Holistic Counsellor

Choosing the right holistic counsellor is crucial for a successful and fulfilling therapeutic experience. It's essential to find a qualified and suitable professional who aligns with your needs and goals. Here are some considerations and tips to help you find the right holistic counsellor:

1. Credentials and Experience

Look for a holistic counsellor who has proper credentials, certifications, and training in holistic approaches. Research their educational background and verify their professional affiliations. Additionally, consider their experience working with individuals who have similar concerns or goals as yours. This information will help you determine their expertise and suitability for your specific needs.

2. Compatibility and Personal Connection

Establishing a trusting and supportive therapeutic relationship is vital. Schedule an initial consultation or phone call with potential holistic counsellors to get a sense of their communication style, values, and approach. Pay attention to how comfortable and understood you feel during this interaction. It's important to find a counsellor with whom you feel a genuine connection and with whom you can establish rapport.

3. Holistic Approach

Ensure that the holistic counsellor's approach aligns with your values and beliefs. Ask about their treatment philosophy, the techniques they use, and how they integrate different aspects of well-being into their practice. A good holistic counsellor will have a clear understanding of holistic principles and will be able to explain how they incorporate these into their therapy sessions.

4. Referrals and Recommendations

Seek recommendations from trusted sources, such as friends, family members, or healthcare professionals who have experience with holistic counselling. Online directories, professional associations, or community forums focused on holistic health can also provide valuable insights and recommendations.

5. Research and Reviews

Conduct thorough research online to gather information about potential holistic counsellors. Read reviews, testimonials, and ratings from previous clients. Pay attention to feedback regarding their expertise, professionalism, and effectiveness. Keep in mind that personal experiences can vary, so consider the overall patterns and themes in the reviews.

6. Practical Considerations

Consider practical factors such as location, availability and fees. Determine whether the counsellor's office is conveniently located for you, and whether their schedule aligns with your availability. Additionally, enquire about their fees, insurance coverage, or any sliding scale options for payment.

What is the Science Behind Holistic Counselling?

It's important to note that scientific research in this field is continually evolving, and there may be more recent studies available.

Several studies have explored the effectiveness of holistic approaches in mental health and wellbeing. For example, a randomised controlled trial published in the "Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology" in 2013 examined the impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. The study found that participants who underwent MBSR experienced significant reductions in anxiety and depression symptoms compared to the control group.

Another study published in the "Journal of Clinical Psychology" in 2017 investigated the effectiveness of yoga-based interventions for reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The results indicated that yoga interventions were associated with significant reductions in PTSD symptoms and improvements in overall well-being.

In the field of integrative medicine, a systematic review published in the "Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine" in 2018 examined the effects of integrative medicine approaches, including holistic counselling, on patients with cancer. The review found that integrative medicine interventions, when used alongside conventional cancer treatments, showed potential benefits in improving quality of life, reducing anxiety, and managing treatment side effects.

The bottomline is...

Holistic counselling is a gentle and compassionate form of therapy that may help you help yourself when you feel the need for support or assistance. Contact a holistic counsellor in your area and ask about the services they provide. When you find one you trust and who resonates with you, it may be the beginning of a remarkable journey of self discovery.

Check out the complete listing of Australia's certified holistic counsellors on the Natural Therapy Pages to find a holistic counsellor in your local area.


Originally published on Aug 08, 2011

FAQs About Holistic Counselling

What does a holistic counselor do?

A holistic counsellor looks at a person's holistic being, which covers their emotional, mental, physical, social and spiritual aspects, in order to come up with a treatment plan that will help them achieve optimal health.

How do I become a holistic counsellor?

If you aspire to be a holistic counsellor, consider taking an associate degree or a bachelor's degree in holistic counselling. This will equip you with the knowledge and skills that you need to be able to provide counselling for individuals, couples and groups.

What is a holistic concept?

In natural health care, a holistic concept refers to the overall health and wellbeing of a person. It comprises the physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual aspects of one's health.

Can holistic counselling benefit individuals with specific mental health conditions?

Yes, holistic counselling can be beneficial for individuals with specific mental health conditions. By addressing multiple dimensions of well-being, holistic counselling can support individuals in managing symptoms, gaining insights into the root causes of their challenges, and developing coping strategies.

What are some common techniques used in holistic counselling?

Holistic counselling incorporates various techniques such as mindfulness practices, energy healing modalities, body-centered therapies, creative expressive therapies, and holistic lifestyle coaching. These techniques aim to promote self-awareness, healing, and personal growth.

How can I find a qualified holistic counsellor in Australia?

To find a qualified holistic counsellor in Australia, you can start by researching online directories and professional associations that specialize in holistic therapies. It's also helpful to seek recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, family or healthcare professionals who have experience with holistic counselling. When choosing a counsellor, consider their credentials, experience, compatibility and alignment with your specific needs and goals.

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