The field of holistic healing is an evolving discipline. Therefore, the words used to speak about the realm of holistic healing remain difficult to concretize. For those who view this growing field from a distance, the confusion about communication is apparent. Essentially, the same words are used in different ways, depending on the speaker and on the context. Even practitioners within the field of holistic healing use words like “healing” and “holistic” in idiosyncratic ways.
For holistic medical doctors, the term “holistic” may mean incorporating alternative healing techniques or procedures such as the use of herbal remedies, diet and nutrition. For psychologists “holistic” may indicate their use of several therapeutic techniques within the discipline of psychology. Or it may indicate that they integrate other healing techniques such as bodywork or meditation within the context of psychotherapy. For some, the term “holistic healing” denotes an overall philosophy of integrationalism regardless of their respective training background, and as such, serve as a self-identifier.
Given the disparity of meanings attributed to the words, the realm of holistic healing is fraught with communication difficulties. This search terms clarifies for the operational definitions of the study’s critical terms to avoid confusion and help set the limits of its purview. Holistic healing literally means wholeness (holy and heal both derive from the Anglo-Saxon healen, meaning whole), with all that implies: “Bringing the rejected and discarded into the circle; listening with the inward ear for those parts that have been silenced; seeking a deeper, more accurate, more creative engagement with the world around us” (Barasch, 2003, p. 7).
“Holistic” refers to the acknowledgement that human beings are multi-leveled. We exist each moment as a body, mind, spirit/soul, and emotional beings. Holistic healing therefore, acknowledges the many parts of our being and seeks to understand their interactions in both the disease and the health creation process. Holistic Healing Conceptualized Holistic healing remains on the edges of mainstream scientific thought. It is contrary to the accepted view that we will always be able to find a specific cause for any given disease.
Holistic healing deals with the totality of a person’s being: the mental/emotional, physical, social, and spiritual dimensions. It is this totality as an integrative and synthesizing force, so perceived and utilized by the healing person or team, that constitutes holistic healing. (Otto & Knight, 2001, p. 3). Holistic healing was described by Pelletier (1997). For him, all states of health were psychosomatic, each person representing a unique interaction of body, mind, and spirit. Illness was a disturbance in the dynamic balance of these relationships.
The client and the practitioner shared the responsibility for the healing and both creatively learned about themselves during the healing process. Practical screen In spite of a thorough search of the literature, no studies have been found that relate directly to the focus of this study, the mechanics of spontaneous healing. The literature review is not the theoretical foundation on which the study is based, but is presented in order to illustrate the current state of the relevant literature. The initial review established the appropriateness of this study.
The majority of the review will be accomplished after the data is analyzed and it will be guided by the findings. Literature from both the initial review and the later review will be compiled in this section. Topics will also be discussed that might relate to the mechanics of spontaneous healing such as the experience of healing, health status, recovery, and survival. In this related literature the independent variables such as social support, optimism, and hardiness are often well defined with reliable and valid measures.
The dependent variables such as “being healthy, having minor health problems, suffering from chronic disease, being disabled, and being dead are treated as equally-spaced points on a continuum” (Hobroyd & Coyne, 2002, p. 364), and are often well-defined or measured. Other measures sometimes defined as “healthy” are help seeking behaviours and compliance with medical recommendations. Nevertheless, there are some interesting studies in which attempt is made to measure the factors that might be relevant to the mechanics of spontaneous healing.
The popular literature claims much more knowledge than can be substantiated with valid research but this literature has stimulated a research interest that may lead to more knowledge about the mechanics of spontaneous healing. In the literature related to specific techniques, such as biofeedback, therapeutic healing touch, imagery, and hypnosis is discussed directly. Each of these areas has a body of research but the studies do not define healing and often do not give enough information for the reader to make judgement on the mechanics of spontaneous healing and on whether the outcomes are credible.
Methodological Screen A suitable design for exploring holistic healing from the perspective of the person in the mechanism of the health creation process is phenomenology. Phenomenology is the study of the essence of human experience (Solomon, 1980). Phenomenology is based on careful consideration of rich complex data, using logic and insight (Cohen, 2001). The phenomenon studied need not be tangible in a physical sense as it can be such things as loving, thinking, imagining, calculating, or doubting. Healing falls somewhere between with both tangible and intangible elements.
Cause and effect are not relevant, but it can be asked what the experience is of perceiving something apparently causing something else. One would not ask what causes healing, only what the experience of healing is. As an approach to research, it is a way to stand back and watch, to break out of one’s familiar acceptance of the world, and to attain a state of wonder and understanding (Merleau-Ponty, 1992). Phenomenology as a Research Method From these philosophical origins, methods of investigation began to emerge.
Spiegelberg (1995) described “doing phenomenology” in a philosophical sense, while Giorgi, Van Kaam, and Colaizzi developed research methods which were inspired by phenomenological philosophy but not bound by it (Omery, 2003). Phenomenological research is evolving and expanding since it is now being used by many disciplines. There is debate about how purely one should follow the method and whether it is appropriate to draw from other related methods such as ethnography and grounded theory. Phenomenology as a philosophy is so diverse that purity is probably nonexistent.
Because of this it would be difficult to derive a pure research method. Phenomenology as it is Used in this Study The primary influences in developing the methodology for this study were Collaizzi (1998) and Merleau Ponty (2002). Both Collaizzi and Merleau Ponty were chosen because of their specific discussion of bodily functions and their desire to maintain the integration and complexity of these functions. They both believed that perception of reality was in fact reality and that this reality can be described.
Careful interpretation can clarify this reality. In the process of interpretation, data are not created, but they are analysed with an attempt to discover their essence. In order to address the research questions posed above, selected individuals will be asked to discuss their experience of holistic healing and the mechanism of their health creation process. Asking people directly seemed an effective way to study meaning, experience, beliefs, expectations, and perceptions of holistic healing.
Benner (2002) pointed out that physiological aspects of healing can be studied readily with traditional quantitative research. Much of the research available on psychological, interpersonal, and personality dimensions of health has also been done using quantitative methods. There is a current interest in exploring holistic healing using qualitative means, but no qualitative studies have explored healing. As healing is a lived experience it seems appropriate to use a qualitative method to ask individuals who are in the process of healing to attempt to articulate what they believe is happening.