What Is Holistic Counseling?
By Christina Stewart
“What is holistic counseling” is a common question I am asked when discussing what I do. A look of curiosity mixed with uncertainty follows as they listen. Unsure if it is normal, unsure if it is safe, not wanting to offend, they skip the follow-up questions. In a culture where we separate and judge all things, holistic counseling would seem foreign. In a culture where we create labels and prescribe quick fixes, holistic counseling is surely remote. But truly, it is time for change.
I started this practice because I saw a void in mainstream mental health services; there was no connection between client and service provider, just arbitrary goals and benchmarks. There was also no compassion, no real support, no progress or healing, just labels, diagnoses, and prescription writing. I noticed that no one was providing counseling service that connected daily mundane life with spirit. For me, connection is everything: connection of the client with self, connection between client and counselor, and connection between client and spirit. When you are connected with spirit, whoever that is for you (God, Goddess, Buddha, Allah, the Creator, Great Spirit, the Divine, the Universe …), there is the potential for greater healing and manifestation. When I am interweaving the sacred into all aspects of my daily life, I feel grounded, I feel supported, and my energy is clean and clear.
Interweaving spirit within the mundane process of support and guidance is vitally important. Working with spirit provides us support and tools that we would otherwise not be able to access. Inner work is hard and can be scary but it is very necessary. Our physical body reacts to stress or trauma by holding emotions, creating energetic blocks, and locking us into unconscious conditioned responses that do not serve us; this is our shadow. Our lesson is to understand that we are not to be afraid of our shadow but to integrate our experiences and create balance and harmony within. Once you begin to consciously live, you see how all things are connected.
From a foundational perspective of interconnectedness, holistic counseling works to develop a healthy sense of self. A healthy sense of self would be one in which mind, body, and spirit are connected and in balance with each other. This allows us to create and sustain a positive relationship with ourselves, others, and our environment(s). In traditional therapy, mind, body, and spirit are usually dealt with separately—compartmentalized, which makes us feel fragmented. Holistic counseling wants to integrate these fragmented parts of the self to create harmony and a greater sense of well-being; this is achieved by creating a space for greater awareness and an openness to change.
In holistic counseling the focus is on the whole individual. The ultimate goal is to know the self on a deeper, inner level and work to develop a heightened sense of awareness and thus, a higher consciousness. Through active participation, honest self-exploration, and the desire to heal past wounds and move forward, the realization of higher consciousness and liberation can be attained. This work is the path of active healing and once you process and clear old hurts and emotional wounds you are free and liberated, able to manifest creatively. Do the work. Move forward. Consciously create. Holistic counseling is an empowering and heart-centered approach to personal growth, health, and well-being.
Life is a journey of learning, understanding, and growing. As I continue on my spiritual path and come to a greater understanding, I am realizing that I am here in service. I am here to guide others through their process of self-discovery, healing, and growth … this is my essence, my reason for being. And I do it with joy and love.
Christina Stewart, www.ChicoHolisticCounseling.com, 530-321-2152