A therapy approach which recognizes the interface between our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being
Interview with Minda Garr, MSW
Tell me a little bit about your background.
My professional training is in social work. My BSW is from Hebrew University where I subsequently spent 29 years on the faculty. I began as a field work supervisor and eventually filled a variety of positions: Director of Field Work Training, Academic Coordinator for the first Haredi social worker training program in the country, Academic Advisor and Lecturer. Even though I am formally retired, I continue to teach a yearly course in Holistic Psychotherapy. In addition, I have spent many years working as a therapist, as well as 35 summers as a staff trainer/advisor in a summer camp setting. One of the things I always tell young people interested in social work is that it is a profession that opens the door to a wide variety of professional opportunities – and it never gets boring.
How did you move from what sounds like a very traditional career to what seems to be a less conventional approach to therapy?
I have always loved to learn. I was looking for a course to take when I was in the U.S. during the semester break in 2002 and found a six-day training in Heart-Centered Therapy sponsored by the Wellness Institute in Issaquah, WA. The course was life-changing for me. It opened up new avenues of thinking and new ways of understanding myself and others. I have continued my training with the Wellness Institute and have been in a group for facilitators since 2006. All of the training is both experiential as well as didactic. A couple of years ago I taught the basic course in Heart-Centered Therapy here in Israel and hope to do so again. The work I am trained in is both transformational and deeply healing.
What is holistic psychotherapy?
When I use that term, I am referring to a therapy approach which recognizes the interface between our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. The therapy models which I have been trained in, and which I have taught over the years, are very influenced by the Western medical model which distinguishes between the various dimensions of our lives. A more holistic approach is based on the premise of the overlapping of these four areas of our lives and the impact that each dimension has on the others.
What types of therapies does it include?
Holistic psychotherapy begins with talk therapy. From the beginning, the connection is very much heart-centered. A basic premise in supporting people as they heal whatever they are looking to heal in their lives, is that the connection must begin with unconditional acceptance of the client and an ability to “contain” whatever issues he or she chooses to bring up. This connection is one which needs to go beyond ego. This means that the focus is totally on the needs of the client and not on those of the therapist. The “tool kit” in an holistic approach includes working with clients in a deep state of relaxation, exploring the early sources of issues that are impacting on the client’s functioning today and healing those issues at the source, working with early wounding and healing faulty belief systems that were formed early in our lives and that continue to impact on our functioning, working with subconscious “programming” that is negatively impacting on our lives, working with the breath for both relaxation and healing, acknowledging and working with the human energy field and working with the mind-body connections that impact on us.
What influences do Eastern approaches have on your work?
Mostly in an awareness of the mind-body connection through the chakras and the use of states of inner focus for exploring levels of consciousness.
Why would someone choose this type of psychotherapy over typical “talk therapy?”
First of all, the type of therapy chosen has to fit the client as opposed to trying to make the client fit the therapy. That’s why I love having a varied “tool kit.” Sometimes, work with a client begins with the more traditional talk therapy and, as the relationship evolves, we move into the less “conventional” modalities. Some of my clients do only the more holistic work with me. Mostly though, there is an integration, as whatever we do together needs processing time. What I am offering is really beneficial for people who want to “move beyond their story” into a new story. It is for people who are looking to expand, grow and develop and move into a place of greater satisfaction in their lives. It is for people who are holding onto issues or early traumas that they are ready to heal. And it is for people who have tried traditional therapy and have felt like they are looking for something more.
How many sessions are usually necessary until the termination of the therapy process?
One of the greatest things is that there is no formula. I have done single sessions with people, I have worked with people for several months, and have had relationships that continued over a number of years. It is the client who decides how far, how deep and how much he/she wants to accomplish.
Do you ever refer clients on to other types of therapy?
All the time. If someone is looking for help, they deserve the best that is there for them. If I don’t feel that I am the best person to meet the need, I always refer to colleagues who can give them the help they want.
Contact information: 052-614-6932; firstname.lastname@example.org, wellnessisrael.wordpress.com
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