A holistic approach to well-being is what we utilise here at UKAT. The word ‘holistic’ comes from the same root from which we get the English word ‘whole’ – that should give you a clue as to what holistic wellness is. The holistic practitioner, whether dealing with substance abuse, mental health or general health issues, treats the patient from every aspect of being rather than just focusing on one.
At the centre of our holistic approach is the knowledge that human beings are more than just physical bodies. Yes, each of us has a body that makes up our physical presence. But we also have minds and spirits that animate our bodies and give them life. When a person is suffering from some sort of illness or malady, it more often than not affects all three parts of the being.
Holistic well-being as applied to substance abuse and mental health issues requires that we maintain an open mind about treatment. We cannot simply pull a single treatment off the shelf, so to speak, and use it to treat every person who comes to us for help. Rather, we need to create bespoke treatment programmes based on the needs of each individual and the circumstances surrounding the issue at hand. In essence, we must treat the:
Body – the physical aspect of humanity that encompasses the physical body and its existence
Mind – the mental aspect of humanity that encompasses the thoughts and emotions
Spirit – the spiritual aspect of humanity that encompasses the personality.
We like to describe the three-part being as a physical body that is directed by the mind and animated by the spirit. When all three are treated simultaneously, the patient stands a far better chance of overcoming all sorts of physical, mental and emotional difficulties.
Treating the Body
Most of the patients who come to UKAT need help to deal with some sort of substance addiction, behavioural addiction or mental problem. Virtually every issue we deal with affects the physical body in some way. Take alcohol, for example. Excessive alcohol consumption physically alters the brain while also affecting everything from the liver to the kidneys to the heart. It creates physical dependence that must be dealt with before a person can be treated psychologically and emotionally.
Physical treatment can take many forms, depending on the problem at hand. An alcohol or drug addict may have to begin treatment with medically supervised detox while a person suffering from an eating disorder might start with vitamin and mineral therapy designed to restore the natural balance.
Treating the body helps to accomplish three things:
Damage Repair – Where substance abuse or behavioural addictions have caused physical damage to the body, treating the body may help it to self-repair as much of the damage as possible. We encourage this through medical intervention that sometimes includes prescription medications and certain kinds of physical therapy.
Health Improvement – Treating the body obviously helps to improve overall physical health. While some of the damage caused by substance abuse or an eating disorder may be permanent, we seek to improve physical health as much as is humanly possible.
Health Maintenance – Lastly, the body that is strong and healthy is one that is better able to fight off future illnesses and maladies. Treating the body is as much about tomorrow as it is today.
We utilise all sorts of tools to provide treatment for the body. We have already mentioned medicated detox for substance abuse issues, but we have other tools at our disposal as well. Regular exercise is one of them. Teaching clients about diet and nutrition is another. Whatever it takes to restore physical well-being is considered a possible treatment.
Treating the Mind
Treating the mind is not always as easy as treating the physical body. With the body, there are lots of physical tests that can be run to determine what’s wrong and how to fix it. The mind, being intangible in most respects, is not open to such black and white testing and diagnosis.
The thing to understand is that the type of issues we treat (substance abuse, addiction, compulsive behaviour, and mental illness) all affect the mind in some way. The mental aspects of a patient’s condition must be addressed if that patient is to permanently overcome.
As far as addictive substances such as drugs and alcohol are concerned, these are able to alter the thought patterns and emotions due to the way they alter brain function. For example, it is not uncommon for someone addicted to drugs to come to us for help somehow believing that they do not really have a problem. Their minds are so clouded by the chemicals in their brains they cannot think clearly or rationally. Their thought patterns will not be corrected simply by treating the physical body. Rather, the mind has to be treated in order to restore rational thought.
Mental illness is obviously more about the mind than the body. So even though something like clinical depression can have very profound effects on physical health, it is an issue that can only be resolved when the mind and emotions are treated.
Treating the Spirit
Treating the spirit is probably the most difficult of the three. What is the spirit? It is that part of you that animates you; it is that part of you that creates your personality and makes you the kind of person you are. Are you normally an outgoing and vivacious person? That is a result of your spirit. Likewise, the person who is more introverted and thoughtful is what he/she is because of the spirit within.
Holistic well-being requires treating the spirit because it is the spirit that dictates a person’s perception of hope and purpose. The drug addict is often someone who has lost all hope. A person suffering from mental illness may no longer see a purpose for living. In both cases, restoring hope and purpose is not possible without dealing with the spiritual part of the human existence.
Treating the spirit does not necessarily entail religious exercise. For many people it does, but others view the existence of the spirit outside of the religious realm. Either way is fine. The point is that every human being has that spirit nature that must be treated along with the body and mind.
UKAT utilises the holistic approach to well-being because we know it works. Would you like to know more about how this approach can be applied to your situation? If so, contact us right away. We are here to help with substance abuse, addiction, compulsive behaviour, and certain kinds of mental illness.
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