Physical therapy has as its tradition the idea of helping a person to become physically independent. It emerged out of World War I as a modality to improve the lives of wounded soldiers, by encouraging and enabling independence in the face of life-changing injury. As it is taught currently the main intent continues to associate healing and self-reliance.
Current medical practice has evolved more towards a “treat the symptom” model and greater reliance on medications and techniques to relieve symptoms, thus denying the freedom associated with self-reliance. In addition, to truly heal one must solve the equation that is presented by the symptom, not hide, mask or drive it away.
This is where holistic practice differs from current medical practice.
There are four main tenets of Holistic thought with regards to health and healing:
- There must be an understanding of the significance of the symptom in terms of the whole person, and to drive the symptom away would have a negative effect on one's health over time, because it is likely that the cause, or causes, were not addressed.
- The individual is ultimately responsible for their own health, which has been stated throughout history, “Know thyself’, and “Physician heal thyself”.
- That our current condition is generated out of our own imbalance, be it faulty posture, muscle imbalance, or systemic disturbances. When an imbalance reaches a critical intensity, it will be expressed as illness or injury.
- The symptom presents itself as key to the solution and represents a learning opportunity. Finding a cure is then an intelligent orientation towards the underlying causes.
Holistic physical therapy means that the therapist/client relationship develops into a team effort to not only solve and resolve the current situation, but to learn how to prevent its reoccurrence or progression into some other ailment. Symptoms direct us to the responsibility we need to take to return to inner balance. The holistic physical therapy practitioner blends an understanding of the body, with all the aspects of how a client uses their body in work, athletics and everything else presented to us by our environment.
The way I work with clients is a comprehensive approach using exercises based in body awareness, lifestyle coaching and counseling as it relates to the current complaint, and direct body use instructions for all activities of living.