What Is a Holistic Approach to Recovery?

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:


The definition of “holistic” in relation to medicine is characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease. Recovery in itself is a holistic experience. As it is a physical, psychological, and emotional process, if only one of those is ignored or not valued, it can make the process slower and more difficult to manage. 

Though modern medicine has had a track record of focusing on the symptoms of an individual “illness,” considering all aspects of the human experience in considering treatment is becoming more well-known and valued in the scientific community.

What is Considered Holistic?

Concerning health and wellness, the term “holistic” is often used to acknowledge the necessity of seeing a person as a “whole” being, physically, mentally, and emotionally, rather than merely symptoms of a disease. Typically, holistic practices focus on preventative actions for health and wellness, such as regular daily routines, physical and mental upkeep, herbal supplements and vitamins, standard therapies, and spiritual wellness.

Do Alternative Therapies Replace Traditional Ones?

Though we can supplement and treat illness and disorder through holistic measures, clinical therapies and pharmaceuticals can aid in the healing process and should not be disregarded. We must understand that though a holistic approach to recovery and healing is valued and ensures ongoing recovery and relapse prevention, it doesn’t overshadow the clinical standpoint of medicine and traditional treatment for drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and mental illness. Traditional rehab, 12-Step programs, detox programs, and clinical therapy are just as important during the process of healing as setting up preventative measures and looking at the whole picture of our health and wellness. 

Popular Holistic Practices in Recovery & Mental Health Communities

  • Yoga. Yoga has had its fair share of recognition throughout all health and wellness communities and particularly has been soaring through recovery and mental health centers. Yoga is a holistic practice that focuses on unifying the relationship between the mind, body, and spirit through regular practices such as movement, breathwork, meditation, prayer, and other rituals. 
  • Acupuncture. Acupuncture is a holistic bodywork practice within traditional Chinese medicine that treats many conditions by triggering specific parts of the body with needles. It is a minimally invasive method that targets the skin surface’s nerve-rich areas to stimulate various organs, glands, and body functions. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the intention of the practice is to allow movement of energy (known as Qi) through the body equally, which then creates an environment for a happy and healthy body. 
  • Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being consciously aware and present. Though this may sound simple, it can be challenging to put into practice. Mindfulness practices are typically meditative in nature, focusing on the present moment through movement, meditation techniques, and breathing practices. When one is more present, it creates an environment for a clearer and more aware state of mind at all times. 
  • Art & Creative Therapy. Art therapy includes practices that use a wide range of creative modalities to reduce stress and induce mindfulness of the moment. Drawing, coloring, painting, writing, and spoken word poetry are all forms of creative expression used for therapeutic purposes.
    1. Dance & Movement Therapy. Dance and movement therapy is more specifically focused on healing through the physical body, but in a less disciplined or traditional way that most dance classes. The intention of dance therapy is for the psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance to support the body’s intellectual, emotional and motor functions. As a form of expressive therapy, DMT looks at the correlation between movement and emotion.
  • Animal Therapy. Animals have been known as healing creatures for quite some time, but it is only recently that we have started to see the benefit of their presence for various physical and mental illnesses. Animal or pet therapy refers to the use of animals as a way to heal from multiple illnesses. Dogs, cats, horses, farm animals, birds and other creatures have been known to be effective “therapists.”
  • Massage Therapy & Energy Work. Massage therapy is a well-known bodywork practice with many different styles, focusing on the body’s physical tissues to create more blood flow, tissue stimulation, and stress relief. Energy work such as Reiki is a bit less well known and more of a spiritual and subtle practice meant to create the movement of energy through the body. 
  • Herbal Medicine & Supplements. We are all aware of the need for taking our vitamins, and herbal medicine and supplements are just taking that a step further. Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, both ancient medicinal practices from the East, use herbs as a form of medicine and for preventative measures within one’s health and wellness. 


Healing and recovery are multi-dimensional experiences, affecting us physically, mentally, and emotionally. At Avalon Malibu, we understand that every person is different and has different needs throughout their recovery process. We believe it is not only important but necessary to honor those differences to succeed. We offer many different approaches and treatment plans specific to each person, as we want every person to thrive within their individuality. Holistic practices are powerful ways to not only prevent illness and nourish our well-being but also help us to understand ourselves better mentally and spiritually with long-term life skills and healthy coping mechanisms. We believe we are capable of nurturing all of these parts of ourselves throughout our healing process. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call us today at (844) 857-5992. We can help you build a program that will set you on the path to your best, healthiest life.

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