Try our quiz to find out which type of holistic treatment is right for you
The whole field of holistic therapies is so vast that it can be hard to know where to start. There are so many different therapies from which to choose; so many traditions; so much advice. Ayurveda or aromatherapy? Chiropractic or crystal healing? Reiki or Rolfing? This quiz will help you uncover the healing path that is most in tune with your beliefs and needs. Simply check the answers that feel closest to how you feel. If you’re not sure, pause and tune into your gut – what feels right? You may well be drawn to more than one answer – that’s fine too.
A. I really want to get to the bottom of a chronic complaint that hasn’t responded to standard healthcare.
B. It’s impossible to choose: I have so many issues – physical and psychological.
C. I’m not comfortable in my skin – my body is full of different aches and pains.
D. It’s hard to pin it down – I just know something isn’t quite right.
A. I prefer healthcare that is precise and science-led.
B. I trust the wisdom of the past – ancient cultures hold the key to modern living.
C. I like something I can feel and experience. I’m looking for tangible results from the word go.
D. We are far more than our bodies and minds – we have the innate power to heal ourselves.
A. No thank you very much; I’d be out of the door.
B. I’m open-minded about these therapies, but they wouldn’t be the main draw for me.
C. If they were used as an adjunct to a more hands-on approach, that would probably be okay, but definitely not as the main course.
D. Yes please – I’ll take all those and more.
A. I’m willing to follow a precise plan and make some practical changes, providing I can see why they’re necessary.
B. I’m totally up for a complete overhaul of pretty much every aspect of my life.
C. The odd bit of homework is okay.
D. I really expect the therapy to do its work on a subtle level.
A. It’s okay if it’s relevant and within a clinical setting.
B. Not a problem, though I’d expect the therapist to be able to figure out what’s wrong by reading my body.
C. I’d really rather not talk much about my past, if at all.
D. I’m pretty sure my problems have their origins in the past, even in past lives.
A. Not particularly – unless it’s necessary for my healing.
B. Yes, as part of the overall package.
C. Absolutely. What’s the point of a therapy that doesn’t use touch?
D. I don’t think it’s necessary to touch the body to affect healing.
A. I’m more than happy to follow a specific diet. Supplements are fine too, and certain herbs if there is good science behind them.
B. Yes, food is medicine so I’m up for dietary guidelines and certainly for herbal cures and cleanses.
C. Only if it’s really necessary for my particular complaint.
D. I totally recognise the healing energy of food, but I’m not really looking for dietary advice.
A. As far as I would with a doctor.
B. Yes, as part of the overall treatment.
C. Of course. I’d be surprised if I didn’t have to.
D. I really don’t feel it’s necessary.
A. If my practitioner thought it could help my condition, I’d give it a go.
B. It makes total sense to me – it’s a tried-and-tested form of stress relief.
C. It wouldn’t be an essential part of my treatment.
D. I’d expect something far beyond standard meditation.
A. Possibly, but nothing too weird.
B. Yes, I’m all for yoga, qigong and any kind of mindful movement.
C. Not particularly. I can sort that end of things out myself.
D. I’d be open to something like dance therapy, Eurythmy or kundalini yoga as part of my therapy.
Simply tot up the number of A, B, C and Ds you ticked and the one which comes out on top indicates the path that would most likely suit you. If you have any serious health issues and/or are taking medication, always check with your doctor as sometimes there can be contraindications (or clashes with medication).
Mainly A: Functional/ lifestyle medicine
If you’re new to holistic therapies and want to stay in your comfort zone, this is where to start. Functional medicine practitioners (many are traditionally trained medical doctors) work like detectives, gathering up all the clues, not only from your symptoms but also from your environment, relationships, stress levels, diet, exercise and sleep habits. They delve into your personal and health history – some will look as far back as your life in the womb (your mother’s pregnancy and health can affect your own). Armed with all this information, they unearth the underlying factors that are leading to your health problems.
You will be expected to take responsibility for your health and may have to overhaul your entire lifestyle. Diet is key (many functional medicine practitioners are also nutritional therapists, or work alongside them). You may be prescribed nutritional supplements and herbal remedies. Exercise, meditation and mindfulness are often part of the regime.
It can work a treat for chronic illnesses, and can join the dots when symptoms appear unconnected.
Mainly B: Ancient systems of medicine
The great civilisations of the ancient world possessed highly sophisticated healing knowledge. Systems such as Ayurveda and TCM are truly holistic and your practitioner will look at every aspect of your life – from how you breathe and move, to how you eat and sleep. So far, just like functional medicine, however, the diagnostics and prescriptions are more alternative.
Practitioners will assess your health by taking your pulses, looking at your tongue and quizzing you on your lifestyle. The aim is to bring your vital energy (prana/qi) into balance, using a raft of therapies. Both systems give dietary advice and are likely also to prescribe herbal medicines. Mindful movement and breathing is encouraged (yoga and pranayama in the case of Ayurveda; tai chi or qigong for TCM).
Expect bodywork (for Ayurveda this could include delicious oil massage or the more stringent marma therapy; while for TCM it is likely to involve acupuncture or tuina). While Ayurveda and TCM are the most widely available systems, if this path interests you, it might be worth investigating Tibb (Unani) medicine, Tibetan medicine or Western naturopathy.
Mainly C: Bodywork
Touch is a vital part of being a human – we actively need it for our emotional wellbeing. Research shows that even short periods of massage can lower levels of our stress hormones, soothe anxiety and depression and help us sleep better. There is a vast arena of bodywork out there to explore, each having a slightly different emphasis. On a physiological level, bodywork can adjust our musculoskeletal structure (osteopathy, chiropractic, Zero balancing), iron out tight tense muscles and fascia (physiotherapy, Rolfing, Hellerwork) or work on our energy body alongside the physical (acupressure, shiatsu). The field of massage therapies is equally vast – from the deep touch of chavutti thirumal (the Indian rope massage) to the barely there touch of lymphatic drainage and the soft shimmering of Trager®.
The beauty of bodywork is that you can let your body do the talking. Although practitioners usually take a case history, their questions aren’t intrusive and there is no need to divulge any emotional issues. Although most people turn to bodywork for a specific physical ailment or stress relief, it can also release emotional trauma held in the tissues.
Mainly D: Energy healing
Energy medicine teaches that our physical form is merely the outward manifestation of our true nature – as quantum physics shows, we actually comprise pure energy. Energy healers believe that the deepest forms of healing come when we bring that energy into balance, as with the ancient forms of wisdom. However, where Ayurveda and TCM will work on all levels (physical, mental, emotional, energetic, spiritual), energy healers tend to focus on the lynchpin of energy, believing that if energetic imbalances are corrected, everything else will automatically follow. This is the realm of healing, chakra balancing, sound healing (including gong baths), colour therapy, homeopathy, flower and gem remedies, light therapy, kinesiology, polarity therapy, radionics and reiki.
These are all very gentle, nonintrusive therapies. Some – such as homeopathy and essences – will require a fair amount of talking (they can feel as deep as psychotherapy); others require nothing more than lying back and letting the healing work do its magic.
Jane Alexander is the author of The Holistic Therapy Bible (Carlton) which outlines more than 80 forms of holistic healing.
Save over £11
when you subscribe today
Exclusive prizes from our Heaven Skincare, Senspa, Green People and more...