Before launching my website, I asked some of my friends and family to browse through it and share their impressions - no holds barred.
Some of the feedback was humbling - and hilarious...
“this sounds too hippy, dippy,” “your sunglasses make you look like a bug in your bio pic,” “ your language is too academic,” “you look like you’re about to cry on the Homepage,” “What is Holistic Psychotherapy…..” (queue the sound of a beautiful song playing and then the sharp high pitched sound of a record scratching...screeeech). What??!!??
Okay folks, I corrected the hippy/dippy and academic language (mostly), I kept the two pictures because I decided I like that I look like I’m about to cry and that my sunglasses could one day date the website (and, frankly, maybe they do already) - but after scanning the website over and over I counted no less than 3 dozen mentions of Holistic Health, Wellness, and Psychotherapy - and a dozen direct and indirect definitions.
But the truly humbling part is that counting words doesn’t make my dad’s (well, cat’s out the bag now - love you dad, sending you air hugs) feedback any less accurate - in fact, it exemplifies why this holistic health website endeavor is so important.
I mean, why would an electrical engineer/inventor care about what Holistic Health is? Those who know about Holistic Psychotherapy and Health, know about it. This article is redundant to you. But we are in the vast minority. And to countless others, Holistic Psychotherapy and Health are niche approaches practiced by granola eating hippies (guilty as charged).
Well then, what is Holistic Health?
It’s the restoration of health down to the cellular level, all the way out to the connection you have with the living world. It's designed to facilitate sustainable wellness, identifying imbalance at the root in order to generate results that last a lifetime (mic drop).
Healthcare N E E D S to change.
Managed healthcare is caught in a closed feedback loop of chasing symptoms, over reliance on quick fix treatments, overly invasive solutions, and skepticism of anything that doesn’t yield a quantifiable or observable-by-the-human-eye result. Our medical schools need to be teaching students to move out of the paradigm: what is the problem and how do we fix it, into why is there a problem and how do we prevent it.
Why is there so much resistance to this idea?
When I realllly stop and think about it, I get both red hot angry and driven to stay present with the challenge at hand. I sometimes feel dwarfed by the enormity of institutions and systems that would need to be involved in order for a shift to occur. But I know I can’t just wish for it, I have to move into action and do my part. Today, I’m reminded that every little bit counts and my little bit, in my microscopic pushpin-on-the-map-of-the-earth, counts.
A Holistic approach to Health seeks to bring balance into the biological, psychological, spiritual, and socio-cultural aspects of the self. As a holistic health practitioner I don’t claim to address all of these dimensions by myself, behind the closed door of my office. I rely on the collaboration of a legion of other health professionals that are highly skilled at their specific discipline to support my clients towards a whole health experience. I create a multi-disciplinary, personalized health plan utilizing the services of other holistic health practitioners in my community. This leads to greater integrity and focus on the objective of health and wellness for my clients.
Recently, I gifted both of my parents an introductory examination package, “complete with x-rays and consultation,” to use with a chiropractor in their community. Not because they couldn’t afford it or aren’t health savvy enough to do it themselves, but because I knew they wouldn’t. My parents are off the charts incredible in taking care of everyone around them and, as with most caregivers, their health gets put off until later. And, I knew that both of them, otherwise healthy and youthful in their lives, were suffering from back pain and other physical symptoms that could be addressed, at least in part, by a holistic chiropractor.
Just this year, my parents sold the family farm, literally, to explore the world and enjoy the conveniences of living closer to town.
I really wanted them to begin this next chapter of their lives with as much flexibility, strength, and comfort as possible. Up until now, the only treatment options they've been offered were narcotics, steroid injections, and surgery. All solutions backed by a mountain of research, and presumably effective when used in conjunction with other health practices, but as stand alone treatments they’re just another chase, another quick fix. I wondered what would happen if I just got my parents in the door to something they haven't been exposed to yet. But I also knew, if I didn't do my due diligence, I could really screw it up - it could backfire in the worst way. Not all chiropractors are alike, some are just an assembly line of crack-your-back-and-come-back-in-two-days racket. Some don’t go over, in detail, all the symptoms involved in the misalignment of your spine, and critical nerve and blood supply challenges that can lead to any number health problems. Not all of them acknowledge the limits of chiropractic care and the need to include exercise, nutritional adjustments, soft tissue work, posture and body mechanic training, anatomy and physiology education, consultation with biofeedback and pain specialists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other medical professionals, etc. And to be fair, this can be said of all health professions, not just chiropractic care.
Holistic Health plans are individualized and comprehensive.
So, I asked my amazing, holistic health chiropractor in Marin County - Dr. Heidi, if she had a recommendation for a Central Valley chiropractor. She did! And, it’s a miracle, my parents can now do cartwheels, back springs, and stick their landing in center splits. HA!
Well, not really, but in essence, what they’re experiencing in their bodies is beyond the physical and maybe on some cellular level inside, or among the molecules surrounding them, that’s actually happening as their whole system is moving towards a whole health experience.
And, so it dawned on me that maybe my parents didn’t realize that I didn’t just buy them an introductory offer to a lengthy, health plan from a decent doctor that I found on the web - I took the best of what I know, consulted with other holistic health colleagues, and initiated a process of deep constitutional health. All, I should add, in my selfish pursuit to have them in my life as long and as vibrant as possible.
In my Holistic Psychotherapy practice, I’ve been passionately absorbed by the academic rigor of medical journals & texts as well as the mysteries of shamanic plant medicine. I’ve taught Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience to graduate students as well as meditation and mindfulness to severely mentally ill, prison inmates. I’ve worked in developing countries advocating for girls leadership and education and locally handed out needles for harm reduction in homeless encampments in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve learned the mainstream knowledge necessary to pass the licensure exam and the use of the tarot for insight pursuits from a local metaphysical bookstore (thanks Granny Rainbow).
Holistic Psychotherapy is not just one thing, it’s the whole thing.
What I don’t offer in my practice, I’m comforted to know other holistic health professionals that I can introduce my clients to. It’s an open feedback system - a web of ever-growing and ever-evolving whole health practices making life a healthier, more sustainable experience.
* Visit the Holistic Health Directory I generated for those of you living or traveling in, or near, Marin County, California. I expect this list to grow and evolve as I collaborate with other Holistic Health Pioneers. Please email me your suggestions at dr.arinn.
In Gratitude & Health,