BLOGIt’s More to Therapy than You Think! Embracing Holistic Care.

As Black people, our melanin is always poppin’ – we know how to wear a bright smile, “stay encouraged” and be of service to our family, community, and friends. Yet even as high-spirited and resilient people, we struggle to affirm our own self-worth, decompress from the stress of life, and embrace holistic support. Studies have shown that Black/Brown communities; out of all other ethnic groups, are the least likely to seek professional help for mental health concerns. 

However, the Pandemic has changed this reality for the better. The fear of getting “shrunk by a Shrink” has in many instances subsided and more and more people are beginning to embrace therapy, group counseling, and what is also known as Integrative Wellness Support as a viable form of care. 

While this is a step in a promising direction there is still the need to understand what therapy has to offer us. First, let’s start by acknowledging that there are two different approaches (if not more)  to mental health support: (1) the standard known as “Talk Therapy” where an individual discusses their thoughts and emotions with a psychologist or psychiatrist to create healthier thought patterns and (2) – Integrative Wellness support also referred to and even prescribed in the U.K. as “alternative care”which typically involves holistic techniques led by a Practitioner such as: Energy Healing, Somatic Movement or Art Therapy, Sound Healing, Breathwork, Massage, Craniosacral Therapy, Meditation, Martial arts, Yoga, Reiki, GYROKINESIS®/GYROTONIC®, Hypnotherapy, Nutrition, Shamanic work and the like.

These modalities or “practices” each carry their own unique attributes which allow one to connect in a deeper, more intrinsic way. The purpose of integration – which means the blending or coming together of two or more things, is to move thought concepts behind the mind into the body or “embodiment”. Contrary to popular belief, Integrative Wellness practices are not new, but have been in existence as a form of holistic care since as far back as Africa B.C., Ancient Egypt, the Asian Dynastie and the time of the First Peoples (Indigenous).

Through the years what has separated us from engaging in these practices is a fear of the unknown, superstition, religious doctrine and mind control, apprehension from generations past, and the biggest one of all – P.T.S.S. Post-Traumatic-Slave-Syndrome. In fact, according to research, Black people have been holding their breath, locked in tension and states of distress and anxiety in our bodies for centuries. Our bodies are such powerful catalysts for accessing the Spirit, opening the mind, invoking a sense of change, growth and development for us all – to deny it, its potential to experience  freedom, joy and healing because of the opinions of others, self doubt, lack of exposure or as mentioned earlier fear – is to deny ourselves a brighter future. 

Personal Story: As a practitioner – I encounter disheartening resistance toward my own work at times, especially from the Baby Boomer generation who find it challenging to sit in stillness for example, with eyes closed for long periods of time until they realize that they are in safe-space – and that all is well. My clients at mid-career point, raising a family and doing the 

tight-rope dance of balancing it all – struggle to manage their energy throughout the day and hardly get a good night’s sleep. They could benefit from guided breathwork, sound healing and acupuncture as a solution to help centralize their nervous system, absolve overactive histamines  and bring balance and equilibrium to the body. Even my students as young as in their teens and 20’s struggle to self-regulate in the presence of social media and an overstimulating economy that constantly pulls at their psyche. Art Therapy or GYROKINESIS®  which is performed in a chair in the comfort of one’s home could be a great way to  regain a sense of awareness and ease. 

The Boris L. Henson Foundation is devoted to supporting the Black/Community along their journey to healing. That is why integrated wellness practitioners like myself remain an important element to support offerings. As a Creative I’ve found through the years that holistic modalities such as yogic-laughter, character research, meditation for personal development and strengthening the mind-body relationship is most effective. I am daily inspired by the mantra that Taraji P. Henson often states “Take Off the Cape!”-  which encourages us all to embrace support even when it looks different or feels new. I hope that you will be moved to break barriers, become radical about your mental health and experience holistic care for yourself and your family. 

Kayla L. Harley
Holistic Integrative Wellness Practitioner/ Optimal Life Breathologist
The Beebodi Marketplace

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