• Deric Hollings

Holistic Approach to Mental Health

Updated: Sep 21


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


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