I often get the question from potential clients, “What is holistic psychotherapy, anyway?”
My New York aunt insists that in New York, the word ‘holistic’ would not get me very far – there’s this perception that the translation of ‘holistic’ equals California crunchy-oat-bread-with-sprouts-and-avocado-eating, Birkenstocks-wearing, lefty-communist protesters… Or some such comparison. Maybe they think we’re all driving around in ’68 VW Bugs hugging trees and singing Kumbaya.
Today’s topic is about expectations. Conflicting views arise – one belief is that we need expectations so that we and others are accountable. The other belief is a more Buddhist perspective about letting go of our expectations to alleviate suffering. What is the deal with expectations, anyway?
Highs and Lows
First, we must remember that having low expectations and having high expectations are still both forms of having expectations. Studies show that students whose teachers have low expectations of them perform at a lower level. Students whose teachers have high expectations of them perform at a higher level. In this regard, believing in peoples’ abilities and having high expectations of them allows them to see themselves in a positive light.
Recently I watched Caroline Myss’ “Energetics of Healing” DVD. Myss is most known for her book Anatomy of the Spirit, and is renowned as one of the first practitioners to pull the mind, body, and spirit together and reach the masses.
In this DVD, her premise is that we have a set amount of energy coming from the Source to us everyday that is managed through energetic chakra centers. Each chakra manages a specific category of information. Good management of the chakras leads to well-being and equilibrium in your daily functioning, whereas poor management results in energy “leaks” that drain cells of life force and leave us depleted, tired, unhappy, with low self-esteem, and with unbalanced relationships. Taken to an extreme, these “leaks” lead to illness and disease.
“Healing” is a broad idea – one that can mean many different things to many different people. It can be related to physical healing, emotional healing, grief work, soul work, and much more; and can include modalities from psychotherapy to acupuncture, from massage therapy to chiropractic, from Rosen Method work to cranial-sacral therapy, and much more.
But there’s one element that all of this healing work shares – and that is the importance of the “witness observer.” One of the very first phrases my clients hear out of my mouth is, “Notice without judgment.” It is the first tool and skill people need on their healing journey. If they don’t understand what they’re doing, thinking, or feeling, it makes it hard to change.
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