A brief history:
- Psychotherapy in this century started with Freud. He developed a whole way of figuring out what people were thinking and feeling as a way to reach their unconscious. Practitioners who work this way are called psychoanalysts.
This is pretty clever but there were people who took exception to that. They believed that it really isn’t fair for one person to tell another what is going on in his or her mind. They felt that behavior is all that you need to work on in order to help people. They are called behaviorists.
Other people thought looking at behavior left out the world of feelings and experience. Clinicians aiming at feelings are called gestalt therapists and experiential therapists.
But there were those who liked the idea of focusing on ideas, being rational and reasonable. Those people are called cognitive therapists.
Some people noticed that it would make more sense to combine all of the above since people, after all, aren’t compartmentalized. Therapists taking this view look at people from the perspective of their unconscious, their behavior, their feelings, and their thoughts. What’s more, they like looking at people in the context of their relationships too. These are called systemic therapists. Because relationships are important, they also work with couples and families. I am a systemic therapist because I like to look at the whole individual whether adult or child. But I also work with couples and families.
A Holistic Approach
- Having been in the field of psychotherapy for 30 years, I think all these approaches make sense and I have come to the conclusion that each one works best if the therapist who practices it really believes in it and enjoys working within that philosophy.
My philosophy takes into account the whole person within the family system. That makes me a systemic family therapist.
However, I noticed that one very important part of the whole person is his or her spirituality-how she or he makes sense out of life and our purpose in it. I include that in my own work. That is one reason why I call myself holistic.
There is another reason. A holistic approach is a wellness approach. Instead of looking at what is wrong with people, a holistic approach wants to know what is right with them: their strengths and resources. It celebrates the human spirit in the face of adversity.
Your connections with others–your spouse, your family, your friends, your community, your co-workers–will create synergy. Synergy is a greater energy together than each of you alone can supply. It comes from emotional interdependence rather than co-dependence (which drains energy). I capitalize on this natural synergy by tapping into as many facets of a person as I can as well as whoever in the family will be instrumental to the healing process.