HOLISTIC is an Adjective…not a Noun

The following is an excerpt from an article by Suzan Walter, President of the American Holistic Health Association. It provides a quick introduction to the two main definitions of the term holistic as it is used in today’s society.

Are you confused about the meaning of holistic? Have you ever been discussing holistic health and discovered that the other person was defining holistic in a totally different way than you? This is not surprising, since there are no accepted standard definitions for holistic, holistic health, or holistic medicine. Most usage falls within two common definitions:

  • Holistic as a whole made up of interdependent parts. You are most likely to hear these parts referred to as 1) the mind/ body connection, 2) mind/ body/ spirit, or 3) physical/ mental/ emotional/ spiritual aspects. When this meaning is applied to illness, it is called holistic medicine and includes a number of factors, such as 1) dealing with the root cause of an illness, 2) increasing patient involvement, and 3) considering both conventional (allopathic) and complementary (alternative) therapies.
  • Holistic as a synonym for alternative therapies. By this definition, “going holistic” means turning away from any conventional medical options and using alternative treatment exclusively. This meaning mainly relates to illness situations, and sometimes is used for controversial therapies.

The expanded perspective of holistic as considering the whole person and the whole situation allows us to apply holistic as an adjective to anything. For example, we can develop a new project at work or re-organize our life holistically. When illness is involved, the broad definition of holistic allows us to integrate both conventional and complementary therapies. Consider adopting this holistic approach to your life.

AHHA’s holistic approach
The American Holistic Health Association (AHHA) promotes holistic health as an approach to creating wellness which encourages you to:

  • Balance and integrate your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects
  • Establish respectful, cooperative relationships with others and the environment
  • Make wellness-oriented lifestyle choices
  • Actively participate in your health decisions and healing process.

Use of this material requires written permission from the American Holistic Health Association. Contact Suzan Walter at (714) 779-6152 or mail@ahha.org.