Holistic therapy (or complementary therapy) refers to a group of therapies that encompass treatment of the whole person. It involves the study of the mind, body and environmental connection. Traditionally, holistic therapy was limited to one primary treatment – talk therapy. Holistic therapists now use and offer many alternative methods to suit the individual’s needs.
Making the decision to attend therapy can be overwhelming for many individuals. You may be seeking holistic therapy for different reasons, whether that be to improve mental health, heal chronic conditions, adjust to new life chapters or recover from traumatic experiences. One roadblock to seeking therapy can be not knowing how to find the right complementary therapist for your personal needs.
Forming the right bond with your chosen therapist is hugely beneficial to gaining the best results and impact on your growth and mental health. However, where do you start when there are thousands of qualified therapists out there? Together, we will explore some helpful tips for choosing the right therapist to help you to reach your therapeutic goals.
1. Research and identify different therapies
Having a piece of paper in front of you with a handwritten list of your current struggles may help you to pinpoint any specific areas of your life that a specialised therapist can help you with. For example, many therapists offer specific therapeutic methods catered for grief, relationship break ups and loss. Others may specialise in childhood trauma and family issues.
Having a brief idea of what you want to work on with your therapist will help you to find the right person – someone who has worked with these topics before.
Research the different types of therapies to identify the ones that sound most complementary to your needs. For example, maybe you process emotion best when working with your hands? In this case, art therapy may help you. Don’t be afraid to try and test a few different therapies to find the one that really works best for you.
2. Ask friends and family
Word of mouth can be a powerful tool in connecting you with a network of accessible therapists in your region. Often, when you can see the results that a close friend has received from working with certain holistic therapies, it can be reassuring and feel more supportive when you go to try it too. However, stay mindful that every individual suits different therapies and what worked for a friend may not work in the same way for you. Their therapist may often be able to point you in the direction of another qualified professional.
3. Speak with your doctors
Doctors as medical professionals have access to a range of other healthcare professionals such as therapists. Consult with your doctors and research if they have any recommendations based on your physical and emotional history. If you are someone who suffers with chronic IBS or musculoskeletal pain – your doctor will be aware of this and might refer you to a holistic specialist who has tools in managing these symptoms.
4. See whether insurance will cover holistic therapies
Many insurance companies offer cover for holistic therapies. Read the small print of your policy to use this to your full advantage.
5. Use a reliable online database
A number of health organisations maintain searchable databases to help you find a complementary therapist near you. Once you’ve compiled a list of researched or recommended therapists – read about their credentials, education level, online ratings and relevant experience. Most therapists will display this information on their online profile.
6. Focus on members of professional bodies
Search for accredited websites to connect with therapists who have trained and registered under these professional bodies. These holistic therapists will be legitimate and reliable.
7. Ask questions that are specific to you
When choosing a holistic therapist it is just as important that the person suits you, as opposed to your needs suiting the person. Ask as many questions as you can to gather a feeling of what working with this type of therapy would be like.
8. See if there is a free discovery call
Many therapists will offer you a free consultation or discovery call to ask questions. Use this time to settle your mind and reflect on whether they will be the right fit for your therapeutic goals.
9. Reflect on your experience
Take some time to decide if you truly want to work with your chosen therapist. Journal about it to help you to process your thoughts, or talk with trusted friends and family.
10. Book into your first session.
Starting and taking action is always the hardest first step. Attend your first session, then reflect some more. Make sure that you are comfortable to continue. Therapists are trained to respect and hold space for your decisions. Always go forward only if you are comfortable, feel safe and feel heard.