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Holistic Health – A Perspective And Practice

Holistic Health – A Perspective And Practice

Article by M. Joy Young, LCSW, ACSW Portland Oregon
(503) 309-1163

You may have seen the word “holistic” used in current literature. It seems to be that a popular word today along with the words “wellness”, “alternative health”, and “untraditional”. With the increase in the popularity of complementary health care options there is the potential for sharing good information but also the potential for misunderstanding and evasive information. The purpose of this little article is to provide you with some general definitions and information about holistic health and wellness so that you can be a more informed consumer of services.

Holistic health is a perspective and a practice. According to the American Holistic Health Association (AHHA, www.ahha.org) and the World Health Organization, health is a state of optimal well being where the concept of health goes beyond the curing of illness to one of achieving wellness. The achievement of wellness is the balancing of various aspects of a person, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. This is how holistic health differs from allopathic health which focuses on physical disease.

When you see your primary allopathic health care provider the primary purpose for the visit is to diagnose, treat, and cure disease. Wellness is not examined or monitored. We don’t help matters much. Most of us only see a doctor when we feel sick, making illness or disease the primary focus. There is nothing “wrong” with this method. It is necessary and important to have a system that diagnosis treats and cures disease. But this is only half of the picture.

Holistic health is a complement to allopathic medicine. Not a replacement. For many of us the concept of health and well being as something to be cared for, examined, and monitored, is just as important as seeking treatment for illness. Even allopathic health care supports the importance of preventative health. Holistic health provides us with a way of examining and modifying healthy lifestyle patterns, wellness practices, and life balance (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) in such a way as to offer reasonable suggestions for improvement and affirmations of wellness practices.

What is the foundation of holistic health?

Holistic health is based upon the foundation of choice. Allopathic health care supports the idea that health is based on the quality of health care you receive (or can afford). Holistic health is based on the idea that health is in your power and is your responsibility. Holistic health believes health is sustained or weakened by the choices you make everyday in all areas of your life (emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual).

Here is a quick summary:

  • Holistic health is a perspective and practice
  • A Holistic Health definition of health is a state of optimal well being and wellness.
  • Wellness is defined as, the achievement of balance in four primary areas: emotional, mental, physical and spiritual.
  • Holistic health is a complement to allopathic medicine, not a replacement.
  • Holistic health provides a method for examining and monitoring wellness rather than illness.
  • The basic tenant of holistic health is choice.
  • Holistic health provides us with a way of examining and modifying healthy lifestyle patterns, wellness practices, and life balance (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual).
  • Holistic health believes health is sustained or weakened by the choices you make everyday in all areas of your life (emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual).

References – American Holistic Health Association, Wellness from Within: The First Step (www.ahha.org)