Holistic Counselling


At best, “So … what is it that you do … exactly?” or something along those lines is what people ask when they stop at my table in MBS events. All have heard of counselling; many have tried it; few have anything good to say about their experience of it; fewer still have seen it associated with the word “holistic”. At worst, I receive messages telling me that there is no such thing as holistic counselling, that I am either a qualified counsellor or practising unregulated therapy.

What is Holistic Counselling?

Defining holistic counselling is not an easy task, for every holistic counsellor brings his own individual spin to it. The general consensus is that, where traditional counselling concentrates on the psychological aspect of issues and behaviours, holistic counselling takes into account the physical, emotional and spiritual contexts, as well as the psychological ones. Its aim is to treat all individuals as whole human beings, made of a mind, body and soul, to help them break free from behaviours that limit them at all levels, so that they can find within themselves the strength and resources to make the changes necessary to overcome their difficulties and move their life forward.

Although more and more counsellors nowadays claim to use integrative approaches, what this generally means is that they no longer keep to one approach, as was traditionally the case, for example humanist, psychodynamic or behaviourist, but combine several approaches to better suit the needs of their clients. Some are also starting to add complementary therapies to their services, such as reflexology, aromatherapy or mindfulness, to name only a few. Although integrative methods are unsurprisingly proving more successful, this form of counselling still concentrates mainly on the mental, emotional and physical aspects of difficulties.

Holistic counselling differs in as much as it considers that all aspects, mental, emotional, physical and spiritual, are connected and must be considered, therefore treated, as a whole. Unfortunately, and although transpersonal psychology is gaining momentum, spirituality is more often than not misunderstood, feared and ignored as a result. Yet, spirituality, not to be confused with religion, although this could be the topic of an article of its own, should be acknowledged for the immense and invaluable source of strength, comfort and hope that it is for individuals facing difficult times.

Whatever spirituality is in the eyes of its beholder, it has become obvious that it can no longer be overlooked when dealing with an individual’s general wellbeing. Many societies around the world, African, Asian, Indian, American Indian etc., following the teachings of their ancestors, have long understood that the body and the soul are not to be separated. Yet, this dualism, instilled in our cultures by philosophers such as Descartes, has unfortunately become ingrained in the Western world, reinforced by the shortcomings of both religion and science.

Slowly, scientists are starting to prove that body and spirit are connected. The works of neurobiologists Eleanor Maguire from University College London and Mario Beauregard from the University of Montreal, to only name a couple, have shown that having a system of beliefs and activating it affect the functioning of the brain and modifies the cerebral anatomy, demonstrating that the part of the brain where intense emotions are triggered when one experiences very distressing events, and which uses a lot of energy firing these intense emotions, literally switches off as soon as the patient starts praying. As spirituality differs from religion, so the definition of praying is unique to the individual who practises it, whether it be prayers in the religious sense as we commonly understand it, thoughts, wishes, meditations, or whatever else one prefers to call it.

About the author

Sandrine Berho-Lavigne

Sandrine Berho-Lavigne

MA – M.M.A.N.F. – AHCP (Reg.)

As a secondary school teacher in North Wales for nearly two decades, Sandrine Berho-Lavigne has experienced and heard from her students, their parents and her colleagues alike the urgent need for holistic counselling.

Talo Holistic Counselling offers a unique blend of services to improve the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing of individuals across North Wales and further afield, including general counselling, crisis and trauma counselling, dream analysis, hands on and distant healing, card readings and spiritual guidance, as well as counselling services, presentations and workshops for schools, businesses and other organisations.

Talo uses a variety of approaches, mainly solution-focused, therefore time and cost effective, tailor-made to each and suitable for all, regardless of age, background, culture or faith.

Sandrine holds an MA from the University Michel de Montaigne in Bordeaux, a PGCE from the University of Wales Bangor, a GCE in Welsh second language, the Professional ASC Advanced Counselling Skills Diploma, the Professional Diploma in Crisis and Trauma Counselling, the Professional Certificate of Merit in Spiritual Healing, the New Age Certificate in Angel Healing, and the New Age Foundation Certificate in Dream Analysis. She is a Master in Mantic Arts of the New Age Foundation and registered with the AHCP.

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