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The blind men and the elephant, and holistic healing systems

The Blind Men & The Elephant
The Blind Men & The Elephant
Wikimedia Commons

The holistic model of healing is one that seeks to consider the whole system and all levels of reality, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. It examines the individual and the environments in which that individual exists, including the family, school, workplace, society, culture, physical surroundings, energetic and electromagnetic influences, and more. This is not about seeking to treat symptoms without uncovering what has created those symptoms. This is an endeavor that requires persistence and commitment.

Our current civilization is one biased toward fragmentation rather than holism. In medicine practitioners focus on specializations rather than addressing the whole spectrum of health. In education students are expected to specialize in a specific discipline without considering how that subject may interrelate to other disciplines. For example, students may study biology without recognizing that physics and psychology are fundamentally connected to biology.

When people are seeking help for challenges in life they typically consult someone with a particular focus of training, such as a religious official or spiritual guide, a psychotherapist, a medical doctor, a social worker, or life coach. Each of those helping professionals bring their own slant or filter through which they view the person's concerns and seek to address them. There may be a focus on spiritual beliefs and values, on emotional patterns and self-expression, on daily habits and routines, on hormones and neurotransmitters, on family dynamics, on social support systems, or other variables.

A holistic approach would consider the full range of variables and address whichever areas are relevant. This can be complex and requires examining the uniqueness of each person and each situation. The ability to provide therapeutic resources for all these areas is not usually taught in professional training that is based upon specialization. Thus, to offer better support and foster better outcomes it is important to integrate multiple modalities, either by the individual practitioner or by an interdisciplinary team. Otherwise, we can become like the blind men and the elephant, only seeing and accessing a small part of the picture that leads us to misinterpret the phenomenon we are working with.