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***Holistic Mental Health Counseling

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By Janet Gallagher Nestor

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Holistic mental health counseling is a new and growing field based in traditional mental health wisdom, herbal and nutritional medicine and many other integrative therapies. Holistic mental health care is a total person approach that includes all aspects and layers of an individuals life. Most holistic mental health professionals believe that real and lasting healing begins on the inside, within the person's heart, mind, body and soul and extends outward through positive change in thought and behavior.

Holistically minded and licensed mental health professionals are trained within the same legal guidelines as other mental health professionals. Holistic training usually comes after graduation, however counseling and allied health programs are beginning to add holistic approaches to their education programs as are medical colleges and universities.

I am often asked about the people and personality types who seek holistic mental health care. Men and women of all ages, with all kinds of issues and illnesses, as well as people from varied sociology-economic levels, educational and religious backgrounds find their way into holistic treatment. However, folks who seek holistic mental health care do have several characteristics in common.

1. They are actively involved with their own health care

2. They seek a medicine free life-style because of allergies and chemical sensitivities or because their belief system leads them away from synthetic chemical interventions.

3. They have been recommended to a holistic mental health professional by a friend, or they are already involved in holistic medical care and extend that care to include mental health care.

4. They are seeking a connectedness, a feeling of belonging, that can often be described as a journey toward emotional-spiritual awakening.

5. They want to work within a wellness model rather than a disease model.

Because holistic mental health is still a new field, many people are unsure of how to seek treatment because they know very little about the options available to them. Below you'll find some holistic approaches defined and explained.

Energy Psychology

Energy Psychology is a group of elegant and comprehensive, brief and powerful mental health therapies. Clinical experience and scientific studies are confirming that these therapies are successful and safe when facilitated by trained, experienced, professional practitioners. Energy Psychology combines effectively with cognitive therapies and successfully addresses psychological issues like anxiety, phobias, depression and traumatic responses. In addition, its use enhances the relaxation response, increases feelings of well-being, reducing emotional and physical pain. These therapies are based on the same acupoints used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the chakra centers identified in Ayurvedic medicine. Clients find these techniques particularly empowering because they include self-help techniques that are used to maintain and increased quality of life. The Association of Comprehensive Psychology and comparable organizations in Great Britian and Canada have established ethical standards of practice that guide this emerging field.

Below you'll find some widely used energy psychologies.

TFT: Thought Field Therapy

TFT is the original energy psychology and has changed the face of professional psychological intervention. Diagnostic TFT is now the standard of care and the choice of the Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology for their certification program. TFT is used by trained professionals within a therapy setting, but you do not have to be a licensed professional to TFT practitioner training. There are specific algorithms that are used for specific issues like anxiety, addictions, obsessive-compulsive behavior, trauma, depression and many other troubling issues. Various self-help exercises like collarbone breathing are part of the TFT self-help activities that help you balance your physical and energy body.

EFT: Emotional Freedom Technique

EFT is the most widely known of the energy psychologies because of its founder Gary Craig who believes that its benefits should be available to all people. A meridian based energy psychology EFT is used in therapy and taught to clients in therapy and used outside of therapy as a self-help skill. This modality is especially effective with anxiety and phobias. You don't have to be a licensed professional to take the EFT training course.

REB: Radiant Energies Balance

A new meridian based energy psychology designed for use with anxiety, panic, depression and other issues including trauma. It is used for pain management and the reduction of symptoms in chronic physical illness. In it's most basic form it used as a self-help skill. The practitioner is a licensed mental health professional.

AIT: Advanced Integrative Therapy AIT is the most widely known and used of the Chakra based energy psychologies. Developed by Asha Clinton it is respected for helping to relieve the suffering of trauma sufferers as well as those needing help with general anxiety, panic, depression and other issues that benefit from professional intervention.

Other holistic mental health care modalities

EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Desens EMDR is very much like an Energy Psychology, but is not classed as an EP. It is covered by insurance and is very famous for quick elimination of many debilitating symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Acute Stress Disorder.

Interactive Guided Imagery

A client - therapist facilitated interaction technique with similarities to hypnotherapy and meditation. Guided imagery is used for personal growth, resolution of emotional issues and other chronic life issues like eating disorders, cigarette smoking, alcohol and substance abuse, chronic illness and physical pain.

Vitamin Therapy and Nutritional Medicine

Prescribed by a holistic psychiatrist, an orthomolecualr psychiatrist, a holistic medical doctor, a homeopathic or naturopathic physician, a clinical nutritionist or an Oriental Medicine and Herbology professional. All health issues are caused by imbalances and dysfunction within the body. Since this fact is indisputable, mental health issues are can accurately be defined as symptoms of physical imbalances and not a disease state separate from other health issues.

Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy has been around for many years and is often used by professional hypnotherapists and licensed professional mental health care providers, medical doctors, dentists and others to reduce stress, end phobias and help with many other serious mental-emotional and physical symptoms like pain, weight loss, eating disorders and addictions.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness and mindfulness based stress reduction have become very popular in the United States, popularized by Jon Kabot-Zinn and others. Mindfulness suggests living a now centered, conscious and aware life-style. Resting Meditation, Walking Meditation, Breathing Exercises and Breathing Meditation and Yoga are very much a part of a mindfulness life-style. There are many books on the subject, one of them written my me: Pathways to Wholeness (2010).

A List of other Respected Therapies Therapies Some of the following therapies require extensive training and professional certification or a professional license. Others are linage healing arts passed from generation to generation over hundreds of years.

*Art Therapy

*Clinical Aromatherapy (prescription aromatherapy)

*Dance and Movement Therapy

*Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

*Music Therapy

*Christian Counseling and Pastoral Counseling

*Reflexology

*Reiki

*Sound Healing

*Tai Chi and Qi Gong

*Touch for Health and other kenesiologies

*Yoga and Yoga Therapy

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do therapists refer to psychiatrists for treatment with medication?

Yes, holistic mental health professionals sometimes refer to psychiatrists for medication management. We usually try holistic approaches before we refer, but there are times when safety is the most important issue and a medical intervention is necessary. Quality of life is very important.

2. What is Neurotransmitter testing and what are the associated treatments? A Neurotransmitter test is a lab evaluation that is recommended by your physician and sent to a specialized laboratory. This test evaluates the balance or imbalance of your brain chemicals (e.g. serotonin, dopamine). When an imbalance is found a recommendation is made and you are treated with supplements that correct the imbalance. These tests and treatment methods are very young in the United States but have been quite popular in other areas of the world for the last 25 or so years. Americans tend to be impatient with this form of treatment because the results are usually slower than the results obtained through medications. However, these special supplements actually correct the physical imbalance by supplying, in natural form, exactly what the body needs to stabilize itself naturally. Medications may create balance while the medication is being taken, with symptoms almost always reoccurring once the medication is stopped. The side effects are far fewer with natural organic supplements than with artificially formulated medications that may have serious side effects.

3. Is holistic treatment evidenced based or folk lore?

All holistic practitioners have case studies that prove that holistic methods are effective for their clients. Public demand for natural treatments and established research centers like the Linus Pauling Institute in Oregon have stimulated the US National Institute of Health to fund holistic, integrative research in hospitals and centers all around the country. Specific studies on various nutrients, medical intuition, bio-energetic healing, prayer and forgiveness are taking place around the world with fantastic results.

Author's Bio:

Janet Nestor is a author, public speaker, workshop leader, Holistic Mental Health Therapist, Licensed Professional Counselor and Diplomat in Energy Psychology. You can find her Facebook Pathways to Wholeness Mindfulness Discussion page at www.facebook.com/pathwaystowholeness

To purchase her book Pathways to Wholeness click http://amzn.to/c9cyP6.

Her bi-monthly articles appear in Sibyl Magazine for Women http://sibylmagazine.com/

Her blog, www.mindfulpathways.com is a great place to get to know her, find all kinds of mindfulness based information and download your free mindfulness meditations.

Please join Janet's Twitter family at http://twitter.com/#!/JanetNes tor and when you do write her a note to say hello! Her tweets are identified by #mindfulpathways

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