“The word ‘Holistic’ in front of ‘counsellor’ implies a focus on the whole person, and that persons’ innate ability to heal themselves.” Rosey Meads
1.0 The formal definition of ‘Holistic’ is:
“Considering a whole thing or being, to be more than a collection of parts: a holistic approach to life and “(medical) Treating the whole person rather than just the symptoms (= effects) of a disease”.( Oxford Learners dictionary search engine )
2.0 Humans are multi-dimensional
We ‘exist’ as: Physical, Emotional, Mental, Energetic, Sacred, and Timeless beings, and so to work on only on the mental aspects of ourselves is not enough to shift beyond stress, trauma, depression, strong emotions, grief, limiting beliefs and circular, restrictive thought patterns etc.
When we want to find our true nature, we need to work on all our dimensions!
The Ancient civilisations knew this, science is now starting to explain the building blocks of being human, and also science is explaining why this ancient knowledge works. When we combine science and ancient wisdom we arrive at a place of immense healing potential including longevity, rewiring the brain, working to release negativity & dis-ease from our DNA, balancing our auric bodies (our energy plane), grounding into Gaia creating stability in our earth connection and soaring spiritually with our higher selves. We are also able to tune into our intuition on demand, and improve our ability to navigate change – and let’s face it, we are facing a time of great change for humans and our planet at the moment.
3.0 Philosophy and practice
The above definitions of ‘Holistic’ do indeed underpin the philosophy and practice of Holistic Counsellors ( HC’s). We work with the ‘whole’ client. Holistic Counsellors walk along side their clients on the journey of discovery and healing, providing support and offering guidance by tapping into a range of modalities that brings the clients attention and increased awareness to:
1. Their Conscious and Subconscious mind
2. Their Physical Body
3. Their spirit/soul – the living energy that is greater than 1 person and 1 life journey and that
connects us all
4. Their Auric energy system or subtle bodies:
a. Etheric Body
b. Emotional Body
c. Mental Body
d. Astral Body
e. Etheric Template Body
f. Celestial Body
g. Causal Body
5. The Clients ability to heal themselves, and live in each moment as a positive, non-reactive
3.1 Ok, what does all that mean? What does it look like and feel like as a client?
Firstly and always, an Holistic Counsellor will work with their client to identify their key resources that have helped them to survive, feel safe, navigate life: these can be people, places, animals, music, art, beliefs, faith, even addictions. Once these resources are identified and embraced, the next part of the journey can begin, because only then does the counsellor know how supported the client is and how far titration into issues, trauma, drama, emotions, physical pain, thought processes etc. can be explored safely in each session.
Sometimes the Holistic Counsellor will take a time line of key events in the clients life, and also a genogram (visual record like a family tree), of what is known about ancestors and any ‘events’, stories, beliefs, anecdotes that have passed down through the family. The counsellor will also explore the clients’ intentions, i.e. how do they really want to live, feel, navigate life, interact in relationships and how do each of these areas of life look and feel currently for the client. As part of this dialogue the client will often have ‘ah ha’ moments (on their own, or due to forensic questioning from the practitioner).
Usually as part of this dialogue the Holistic Counsellor will pause the client and have them somatically embrace and recognise emotions and thought patterns that are held in the body.
3.1.1 What does Somatically mean?
“Somatic psychotherapists believe people may be able to quickly address deep emotional issues not revealed through talk therapy, simply by paying attention to the communication of the body. Because past trauma or other psychological concerns may potentially have a negative effect on a person’s autonomic nervous system, people experiencing emotional and psychological issues may also be affected by physical concerns such as sexual dysfunction, hormonal issues, digestive issues, or tension in specific parts of the body such as the head, neck, shoulders, or stomach.
Practitioners of somatic psychotherapy can help individuals both become more aware of these bodily sensations and learn to use therapeutic techniques to release any tension the body is holding. Techniques often used in therapy include breathing exercise and sensation awareness, physical exercise such as dance or other movement, voice work, massage, and grounding exercises. During the session, the person in treatment may be encouraged to reflect on patterns of behaviour and identify any impact these patterns may have on any new emotions, experiences, or concerns that come up in therapy. Somatic therapy may help people experience greater self-awareness and connection to others. Participants may find themselves able to better sense their own bodies, reduce stress, and explore emotional and physical concerns, including decreasing symptoms of anxiety, depression and increasing self confidence.” ( excerpt from Good Therapy – Somatic Psychotherapy article 2/7/17)
3.2 So what are some other ways Holistic Counsellors work with the mind, the physical body, the energy bodies, and the soul?
3.2.1 Conscious and Subconscious mind:
Many people are unaware that they have a conscious and a subconscious (unconscious mind); Your subconscious mind is out of your awareness. It’s not that IT is unconscious, it’s just that you are not conscious of it. It’s the part of you that is critical in making sure you do everything you need to do to stay alive ( amongst other many other things). The subconscious mind keeps your heart beating, your blood flowing, cells regenerating, eyes blinking, lungs breathing etc.
The Conscious Mind is:
- Limited focus
- Directs outcomes
- Controls Thinking
The Subconscious Mind is:
- Active while sleeping & dreaming
- Responsible for involuntary movements
- Knows solutions to problems we cannot solve consciously
In Holistic Counselling a strong focus is placed on communicating with each clients’ subconscious mind, bypassing the limiting and controlling and often fear based thought processes of the conscious mind. The HC assists the client to become aware of, and then to honour the innate wisdom, intuition and unlimited scope for possibility that is a part of their Subconscious Mind.
The human mind is very powerful, and the conscious part of it is also firmly planted in a dense 3 dimensional energy and is controlled by the survival mechanism humans have evolved with, which is the Ego. The Ego creates thoughts and actions with its’ sole intention to keep us alive. As we evolve, we can be less focused on physical survival instincts (which are usually about fight,
flight, us and them, competition, scarcity and separation), and learn instead to bring our attention to each moment. When we are more focused on each moment and not projections of the past or the future then most of the time we are not under threat or fighting to survive! Most of the present moment experiences are peaceful.
When we are peaceful, calm and observing ourselves in the present moment, we stop reacting to situations, other people, drama and fear and instead are able to pause before we react, speak, move, act – this enables our higher-self and subconscious mind to send us intuitive information guiding our conscious mind to live beyond the ego survival instincts. The more humans that are able to live this way, will assist humanity to evolve into a more loving and compassionate society.
On the individual level, when working with a client who has become tuned into their Subconscious mind, we see them shift from reaction, self-created pain and difficult thoughts and emotions into a peaceful, confident person who has the courage to live and make decisions that are congruent with their inner beliefs, dreams, visions and goals.
An holistic counsellor will use therapies that support taking our thoughts through enquiry to break the ‘I’m a victim” or “I’m ashamed of me” beliefs ( such as The Work of Byron Katie); the counsellor may also use hypnosis to support the subconscious mind in order to stop addictive behaviours, repetitive behaviours, and to increase self-confidence, stop phobias etc. They may incorporate Neuro Linguistic Programming, Timeline Therapy®, Meditation training, and other therapies to create a strong and healthy mind body connection. The counsellor will also provide access to daily rituals that help the client make space in each day for learning self love, self acceptance and self compassion; these may include healing a wounded inner child, sitting in stillness without fear, creating your day and many, journaling in the meditative state and many more processes.
3.2.2 The Physical body: Is where we, as humans, hold and also block emotions, where we store both uplifting and heavy energy and also where we regulate or fail to regulate our internal systems ( in conjunction with our subconscious mind ) e.g. Cardiovascular system, Digestive system & Excretory system, Endocrine system, Integumentary system, Immune system and
lymphatic system, Muscular system, Nervous system, Renal & Urinary system.
We have already explored Somatic work, other areas an Holistic Counsellor will work to improve the quality of the physical body is breath work including alternate nostril breathing, and deep slow diaphragm breathing, (which lower high blood pressure), heart congruence meditation, instructing cells of the body (quantum physics) and of course there are many more processes.
They may refer to (or be qualified) nutritionists so the client can develop a regime of eating that supports good digestion, ease of excretion, healthy skin and hair etc.
They may work in the field of Systemic and Family Constellations to clear DNA inheritance of ‘dis-ease’ and physical tendencies that replicate ancestral traumas. (see Family Constellations Therapy and the science of Epigenetics).
They may use sand play, drawing and painting, movement and music to enable the body to express itself and release heavy and negative traumas. They may use the somatic release work of Peter Levine to safely tap into and process trauma. They may use Energy Medicine such as Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping), Reiki, Pellowah, Hahnemann Healing, EMDR, DFT, Sound for healing, cell biology belief transformation processes and other techniques many of which are supported by quantum physics, science and peer reviewed medical papers.
They may also offer the client activities as ‘homework’ to create gradual changes to support a healthier physical lifestyle e.g. if a client loves dance, this is a much better daily exercise for the client to embrace in a non-formal manner, than for the client to believe they have to walk or run or go to the gym. Exercise that is fun and that brings a smile to the client will stay with them for the rest of their life and will never feel like a chore. It may sound simple and obvious, and yet so many clients don’t recognise that daily movement can be joyful and doesn’t have to be a chore! And is also vital for optimum physical health.
Seeking health & peace through only an external focus, ignores much of who we are an will be a struggle,
when we embrace our holistic self, then lasting healing and an expansive life are possible. Image 4.
3.2.3 Their spirit or soul – the living energy that is greater than 1 person & 1 life journey & that
connects us all
Not all clients are comfortable with the concept of spirit or soul, religion is NOT a part of working with a persons’ spirit or life force in Holistic Counselling. HC’s acknowledge each clients faith and beliefs – these are not for the counsellor to change, the client once on the journey of self discovery may shift themselves / or may not – this is entirely the clients journey!
Spirit, soul, I am presence, Connection with the 1, life force energy: there are so many names allocated to the energy that is greater than our physical body in this timeline! Holistic Counsellors definitely recognise the need for clients to meet, interact with, listen to, feel the love from, be open to the guidance from their own spirit/ life force.
Many humans who have experienced trauma as children, walk through life with their life force/soul external to their physical body. This is because their physical body has been unsafe. One of the most profound programs of work Holistic Counsellors can offer is to work with such clients over time to establish safety in the here and now, safety for the traumatised inner child safety in the physical body and eventually integration of soul/ life force and physical body. When this occurs, the client is reclaiming their birth right and ability to live life as a sovereign being.
From this moment when integration occurs, we are able to work with the client to establish boundaries (that suit them) in all aspects of life, and develop the communication skills to live each day protected by these boundaries and then to state with confidence and self-compassion to everyone in their life where those boundaries are.
What is the concept of a sovereign being?
When we understand that the nature of our universe is holographic (i.e. everything we create in our experience of reality is a mirror of our conscious & unconscious thoughts), then it is important that we are able to make a commitment to love and honour ourselves first and above all else. How we feel about & treat ourselves will be mirrored back to us in those who we attract into our reality.
Therefore the concept of each of us as a sovereign being is an awakening to our own true nature, an awareness that no other person (regardless of their money, ideology, position in society, or relationship in our life) can affect or dictate to us who we are and how we should live. The closer we are to the still point of this moment, in all moments of our life, then the more intensely we will become familiar with who we really are and why we are here in this life time. This enables us to gain momentum in staying committed to living for OUR purpose; in setting boundaries to protect OUR true nature and we will then be able to articulate this to others .As a sovereign being we must be clear about who WE are, because there are many, many, people and organisations who do not want us to live in our authenticity and sovereignty.
For many clients saying YES to themselves and all that is, is the first step towards self-love. This cannot be underestimated – for many of us it is a HUGE step – in the West we don’t live in a society that supports loving ourselves just as we are, we are encouraged to find fault in ourselves, judge ourselves, make ourselves small to ‘fit in’ to someone else’s projection! Holistic Counselling is focused on supporting the client to take that first step on the journey back to self love – and that is no longer arguing or judging
what is! Image 5.
There are so many amazing, empowering and profound daily personal rituals, therapies, practices and wisdom codes available for both client and Holistic Counsellor in relation to connecting with and listening to our lifeforce / inner wisdom/ soul, that enabling and augmenting the personal soul connection/ awareness is possible for everyone – if that is their intention when commencing on the healing journey.
3.2.4 Their Auric Energy System – the energy that flows through us and around us and the 7 subtle energy bodies.
There are 7 energetic bodies that make up a human biosphere.
1. Etheric Body
2. Emotional Body
3. Mental Body
4. Astral Body
5. Etheric Template Body
6. Celestial Body
7. Causal Body
This is not a foreign concept in the East, and in the West we are finally becoming more accepting of and aware of, the reality of these bodies, the chakra system and energy flow as a part of good health! I won’t go into great depth in this article, exploring these energy bodies has been done so very well in many, many books!
Energy work, seeing auras, photography that captures auras, connecting with these vibrational energy bodies can all be addressed and included in Holistic Counselling dependant on the clients’ openness and the practitioners specific modes of training!
Let’s however explore one key subtle body which we all understand: this is the emotional body. The emotional body is part of the unique experience of being human that enables us to ‘feel’ with great intensity, and which we can view as positive or negative. This is one of the most potent areas for pain and disfunction within humans, and an area that Holistic Counsellors support and guide clients to navigate so that emotions can be experienced without fear and judgement and then processed, released and their learnings kept for personal growth and increased wisdom.
Some processes that might be used to support clients learning to manage and embrace their emotions are:
-Emotional freedom technique
-Working with attachment styles, to gain an understanding of how the client manages their
emotions in key relationships
-The Mini method – learning to meet and sit in emotions without fear or reaction
-Learning the emotions vocabulary so that the client becomes more effective at acknowledging their
emotions and then expressing their emotions to their counsellor and key people in their life.
– Feelings constellations (Part of Family and Systemic Constellations therapy)
-The five stages of Grief – for loss.
On the human journey to live in peace, the first step is understanding that emotions are not “good’ or ‘bad’ – that we have been encouraged to label and judge emotions. Emotions are responses to our external or internal environment and occur when what we want to happen, or expect to happen doesn’t ! or when we loose connection with a person or animal or situation with whom we have experienced love.
Love, is a vibration and is the natural state of all existence.
In a human body on this planet, we as a collective do not vibrate in the state of love, therefore when we find that vibration or connection with another living being we gravitate to them and want to stay in that loving vibrational connection. Then – we assign ownership and expectation to that relationship! Now we have set ourselves up for painful emotions! Nothing living in a physical body on this planet lives forever or is static, therefore at some point in every loving connection/relationship we are going to loose the love connection due to death of the physical body or because the situation has changed and 1 party has moved in a different direction.
Now we experience emotions that we judge as bad, negative, painful! Except they are not! They are a physical and energetic reaction to the perceived break in the love connection/ energy and us arguing with reality using that powerful mind and ego to create stories about the other being, about ourselves, our own hurts and self judgements etc.
Does this have resonance for you? Re-read it!
If you are exhausted by your own stories and judgements that you place on yourself, your relationships, your lost loves, then you are ready to commence the journey to live differently and beyond negative emotions and the thought processes that accompany them.
3.2.5 Active participation in their own healing processes.
Holistic Counsellors ( HC’s) don’t ‘fix’ their clients, instead they have great capacity to ‘hold space’ and journey along side their clients. Holistic Counselling as a therapeutic process recognises that each human has the ability to heal themselves, and in fact we can never ‘fix’ another person, this healing and growth must always be self work.
In the client/ counsellor relationship, the two walk as fellow travellers on a path of discovery, meeting reality, processing and then healing, and all this is possible because the Holistic Counsellor holds a deep connection of empathy and a sense of respect for the clients’ journey. The HC also holds in their heart what is possible for the client and meets the client WHERE THEY ARE AT, each step of the journey.
As clients begin to be at peace with reality, they begin looking forward and asking “ what is possible?”, at this point the HC moves more into a coaching role – working with the client to support creative visualisation of what life can look like, what the client wants to achieve. In this role, and at this stage of the client / HC relationship, the Holistic Counsellor is working with
the client to remove any residual blocks to achieving their goals, and is providing practical information and supporting the client to identify and commit to the incremental steps that they will take with them into their life. At this point the client is growing daily by integrating all these changes, processes and daily rituals and is ready to live beyond the client/ HC relationship.
There are many different colleges providing Holistic Counselling training. When looking for an Holistic Counsellor ensure they are members of AHHCA ( Australian Holistic Healers & Counsellors Association) and/or IICT International Institute of Complimentary Therapists). Also ask if they have a counselling mentor to support them, if they have insurance and if they are engaged in Continued Professional Development (CPD) on an annual basis.
Holistic Counsellors are bound by the same ethics as traditional counsellors, including the privacy act, client privilege and to inform authorities if a person is deemed to be potentially dangerous to themselves or another person. They also must report child abuse to the police and the department of Human Services.
Holistic Counselling is a fast growing field of integrated therapies, there are no limits to the range of Biological sciences, Quantum Physics, String Theory, Psychobiological processes, Ancient wisdom processes, Shamanic wisdom traditions, Energy work, Sound and vibrational frequency healing that can be incorporated into an Holistic Counselling practice.
What is key is that you resonant with the practitioner, that you feel safe, heard, seen, and that you are experiencing personal progress on your journey to finding your true self, your peaceful and joyful nature and your role as a human in this life journey.
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Article about Holistic Counselling – Rosey Meads – BAVA, Dip Hol Counselling, Master Practitioner NLP, Hypnotherapy, Timeline Therapy, Reiki Master, Musician,