I recently started calling the work I do “holistic” psychotherapy. Perhaps a mere matter of semantics, it feels like an important distinction as my approach to helping people heal has evolved over time.
What is Holistic Psychotherapy?
Holistic psychotherapy refers to an integrative approach to therapy that incorporates both traditional and non-traditional treatments to help people heal. Rather than viewing a client as someone who is “sick” or needs “fixed” (neither of which are true), it takes a look at the whole person. Holistic psychotherapy considers mental, physical, and spiritual elements that influence a person’s wellbeing as they work towards healing. It combines aspects of traditional talk therapy and non-traditional approaches, including hypnosis, body work, and mindfulness.
Often times, talking alone isn’t enough to help our clients move out of a stress or trauma response. This is because, during these moments, the area of the brain that is responsible for speech production tends to shut down (van der Kolk, 2014).
So, when talk therapy isn’t the right intervention, we have to look for other ways to help people regulate themselves back to a calm state where they are able to feel present again, to feel “like themselves” again, as I often hear people express when they first step into my office. When we can do this– locate a calm state of being and return to the present moment– we are able to access the wisdom in the body and translate that into cognitive insight and awareness.
My Decision to Pursue Holistic Psychotherapy
I saw this play out time and time again in my work as a therapist. So many highly-motivated, intelligent clients would find themselves feeling stuck and unable to change despite total commitment to our work together. They would feel frustrated and, often times, personalize their inability to change as an indication of their worth, or lack thereof. I knew this was not the case and that what was blocking their progress was something unconscious. No amount of insight was going to help them, and I knew I not only wanted, but needed, to learn alternate ways to help people heal.
This led me to the last decade of my life, where I have been training and studying somatic healing as a way to help go beyond talk therapy and break through subconscious patterns of sabotage. As I walked through the world of somatic therapy, I was overjoyed, and often overwhelmed, by the vast array of healing modalities available out there.
I have trained in certain somatic healing approaches (and yes, it was hard to choose!) in order to gain mastery in some of my favorite modalities and I want to share more about these approaches with you in my forthcoming three part blog series.
What Is Transformative Touch?
The first body-based therapy I trained in was Transformative Touch (TT). Transformative Touch is a modality that combines touch and talk to address the health and wellbeing of the client’s mind, body, and spirit. The touch used in Transformative Touch is used to bring awareness to the client’s body and internal experience. These sessions are done with the client fully-clothed while the therapist applies gentle touch and invites movement into the client’s body.
During the session, Transformative Touch therapists like myself work with the client’s nervous system, guiding clients to:
- reconnect to their body
- understand their nervous system and how to self-regulate
- give attention and compassion to the sensations in their bodies. Sensations are how the body communicates and the body is the subconscious mind
- restore movement in their bodies, as movement is the key to life, which unlocks the full expression of self
- express emotions long held in the body (read: Emotions as Energy in Motion)
- release trauma and tension trapped in the body
I am humbled every time I do this work. It never ceases to amaze me how much wisdom and profound intelligence is stored in the body… but only when we take the time to truly listen.
If you, like so many others, have found yourself unable to turn awareness and insight alone into change, I encourage you to consider including your body in your healing work. When the mind and the body are both included in your healing process, you can truly access the whole person.
To discuss pursuing Transformative Touch sessions with me, please contact me. I look forward to helping you learn how to let your body in on the conversation.