• Deric Hollings

Holistic Approach to Mental Health


When beginning mental and behavioral health services with new clients I find it useful to explore what expectations people have for their care. The answers vary widely.

For individuals seeking medication treatment, I assist by encouraging clients to consult with a primary care provider or psychiatrist. If specialized psychological testing and assessment is requested, I invite people to contact a psychologist.

I don’t treat groups, families, couples, or minors, so I also assist with directing potential clients in the proper direction for those services. Additionally, referrals may be given if clients require care beyond my scope of practice and if ongoing care indicates a clinical need.

As a counselor and social worker, practicing as a psychotherapist, I try to clarify my approach to helping people as early in the therapeutic process as possible. Clients are informed that I practice Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and I answer any questions people have about this form of treatment.

For a more in-depth understanding about how I use REBT, you are invited to review a blog entry I posted entitled Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).

Clients often express surprise when discovering that I incorporate a holistic approach with my practice. Typically, the following are examples with which I encourage clients to engage outside of session:

· Making improvements in nutrition and physical activity levels

· Improving sleep to reduce impact of mental health symptoms

· Seeking self-care activities (i.e., acupuncture, yoga, massage, meditation, etc.)

· Making use of self-soothing techniques (i.e., listening to music, watching a movie, doing a facial mask, etc.)

· Participating in other non-clinical therapies (i.e., art, music, or equine therapy, etc.)

· Engaging in other well-rounded elements of care (i.e., psychiatric, medical, social, spiritual, lifestyle, behavioral, etc.)

What is the purpose of these holistic measures?

While there remain notable criticisms of the research, the Rat Park series of studies conducted in the 1970s highlighted the importance of environmental enrichment. The researcher was said to have “constructed Rat Park with wheels and balls for play, plenty of food and mating space, and 16-20 rats of both sexes mingling with one another.”

While the study used rodents and addressed addiction, one may argue that the results are applicable to humans experiencing mental health symptoms. Research with similar results has been observed regarding people in solitary confinement.

Think of how your life may have been impacted during COVID-19 quarantine/lockdowns. Social isolation is said to be linked to sleeplessness, reduced immune function, poor cardiovascular health, reduced cognitive function, and increased probability for aggravation of mental illness symptoms (e.g., suicidality).

One source adds, “Detrimental effects on mental health are expected to arise with isolation, neglect, and loneliness.” Another source reports, “Physical activities will not only improve physical health but will also improve the psychological well-being of individuals.”

I can imagine at least one individual claiming that there is no correlation between holistic treatment and improved mental health symptoms. After all, the pathological medical theory of health within the United States is said to largely ignore a holistic approach.

Perhaps rigid focus on one clinical intervention is all one deems necessary to address mental health. Take these meds, receive that “talk therapy,” and feel better, right?

To that I ask, what’s the harm in assuring that a person receives improved sleep, more exercise, better nutrition, healthier social support, and other factors that may lead to an overall subjective improvement of health in addition to other common mental health strategies?

For me, the answer is clear. I encourage you to explore what holistic approaches may best serve you.

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

If my approach to REBT sounds like something in which you may be interested, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW

Illustration by Brittany England.

Photo credit, fair use


Abramson, A. (2021, May 24). Do primary care providers prescribe meds for mental health? The Paper Gown. Retrieved from https://thepapergown.zocdoc.com/do-primary-care-providers-prescribe-meds-for-mental-health/

Albert Ellis Institute, The. (n.d.). Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. Retrieved from https://albertellis.org/rebt-cbt-therapy/

American Psychological Association. (2009). Different approaches to psychotherapy. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/psychotherapy/approaches

American Psychological Association. (2019, October 31). Psychotherapy: Understanding group therapy. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/psychotherapy/group-therapy

American Psychological Association. (2013). Understanding psychological testing and assessment. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/testing-assessment-measurement/understanding

American Psychological Association. (2019, December 11). What do practicing psychologists do? Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/psychotherapy/about-psychologists

Coppola, F. (2019, October). The brain in solitude: an (other) eighth amendment challenge to solitary confinement. Journal of Law and the Biosciences. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/jlb/article/6/1/184/5573653

DreamLife Recover. (n.d.). Mind, body, soul: A holistic approach to mental health. Retrieved from https://dreamliferecovery.com/mind-body-soul-a-holistic-approach-to-mental-health/

Enriquez, A. (2021, October 25). Q. How does fair use work for book covers, album covers, and movie posters? Penn State. Retrieved from https://psu.libanswers.com/faq/336502

Gage, S. H. & Sumnall, H. R. (2018, October 27). Rat park: How a rat paradise changed the narrative of addiction. Society for the Study of Addiction. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.14481

Ganesan, B., Al-Jumaily,, A., Fong, K. N. K., Prasad, P., Meena, S. K., & Tong, R. K. (2021, April 16). Impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak quarantine, isolation, and lockdown policies on mental health and suicide. Frontiers in Psychiatry. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8085354/

Gupta, S. (2021, August 10). What is couples therapy? Verywell Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/couples-therapy-definition-types-techniques-and-efficacy-5191137

Hairston, S. (n.d.). Is it good enough to go to your doctor or do you need to see a psychiatrist? Our decision-making guide. Open Counseling. Retrieved from https://blog.opencounseling.com/physician-vs-psychiatrist/#fullread

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2022, March 24). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-rebt

Jain, A., Bodicherla, K. P., Raza, Q., & Sahu, K. K. (2020, October 30). Impact on mental health by “Living in isolation and quarantine” during COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7773080/

L., S. (2019, October 30). What you need to know about the rat park addiction study. Serenity at Summit. Retrieved from https://serenityatsummit.com/news/overview-rat-park-addiction-study/

La Noce, A. (2020, December 30). Benefits of holistic approach to mental health. La Noce Psychiatry. Retrieved from https://www.lanocepsychiatry.com/post/benefits-of-holistic-approach-to-mental-health

Lifeskills South Florida. (2022, March 10). 7 tips to manage your sleep in mental health recovery. Retrieved from https://www.lifeskillssouthflorida.com/mental-health-blog/7-tips-to-manage-your-sleep-in-mental-health-recovery/

MacBride, K. (2017, September 5). The 38-year-old study is still spreading bad ideas about addiction. The Outline. Retrieved from https://theoutline.com/post/2205/this-38-year-old-study-is-still-spreading-bad-ideas-about-addiction

Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. (2008). Psychopharmacological Treatment. Science Direct. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/psychopharmacological-treatment

Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Family therapy. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/family-therapy/about/pac-20385237

McClanahan, K. K., Huff, M. B., & Omar, H. A. (2006, March 14). Holistic health: Does it really include mental health? University of Kentucky. Retrieved from https://uknowledge.uky.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1062&context=pediatrics_facpub

MinuteVideos Portfolio. (2016, November 16). Addiction an [sic] the rat park experiments - Short version [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/xNmEboNEnd8

Mirmont Treatment Center. (2021, August 1). What is a holistic approach to mental health? Main Line Health. Retrieved from https://www.mainlinehealth.org/blog/what-is-a-holistic-approach-to-mental-health

Modern Therapy. (2020, May 9). Self-soothing vs. self-care: Strategies for reducing stress. Retrieved from https://moderntherapy.online/blog-2/2020/5/9/self-soothing-vs-self-care-strategies-for-reducing-stress

National Academies of Sciences, The. (2015, December 29). Improving diagnosis in health care. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK338593/

National Association of Social Workers. (n.d.). Ethical standard of the month: 1.16 referral for services. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Ethics-Education-and-Resources/Ethical-Standard-of-the-Month/Referral-for-Services

National Institute of Mental Health, The. (2021, June). Psychotherapies. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/psychotherapies

Northern Kentucky University. (2021, July 13). A holistic approach to mental health. Retrieved from https://onlinedegrees.nku.edu/articles/msn/holistic-approach-to-mental-health.aspx

Northwestern University. (n.d.). What is counseling? Retrieved from https://counseling.northwestern.edu/counseling/become-a-counselor/what-is-counseling/

Radcliffe, S. (2018, November 1). Researchers want to know if probiotics can affect mental health. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/help-fix-psychosis

Radhakrishnan, R. (2020, November 12). What exactly does a psychotherapist do? MedicineNet. Retrieved from https://www.medicinenet.com/what_exactly_does_a_psychotherapist_do/article.htm

Retreat Behavioral Health. (n.d.). Behavioral health vs. mental health: What’s the difference? Retrieved from https://www.retreatbehavioralhealth.com/behavioral-health-vs-mental-health/

Riopel, L. (2019, September 25). 26 mental health exercises & interventions based on science. Positive Psychology. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/mental-health-exercises-interventions/

School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. (2020, December 8). Understanding the effects of social isolation on mental health. Tulane University. Retrieved from https://publichealth.tulane.edu/blog/effects-of-social-isolation-on-mental-health/

Social Work License Map. (n.d.). What is social work? Retrieved from https://socialworklicensemap.com/become-a-social-worker/what-is-social-work/

Texas Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Mental health counseling services for children. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.texas.gov/services/mental-health-substance-use/childrens-mental-health/mental-health-counseling-services-children

Thorell, A. (2021, August 23). Distinguishing health from pathology. The Journal of Medicine & Philosophy. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/jmp/article/46/5/561/6356462

True Life Center. (2021, July 1). The benefits of holistic treatment for mental health conditions. Retrieved from https://www.truelifewellbeing.com/recovery-blog/benefits-holistic-treatment-mental-health-conditions/

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Environmental enrichment. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_enrichment

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Rat park. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_Park

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All