a sanctuary for the curious

The Necessity of a Tripartite Model of Therapy

Healing any part of the body or mind involves the entire body and mind.

It’d be really lovely if we could isolate each cell, organ, hormone, neurotransmitter and limb, and treat each as if they weren’t part of the whole organism. That’d be music to the reductionists’ ears.

But alas, reductionism has failed in its attempts to pin down human health. Why? Because human health is a synergy of everything at once.

Much to our dismay, life —and naturally, health— is a constant balancing act. Life is a continuous teeter-totter of random hoopla.

Happiness exercise: try being sad and screaming the word “hoopla” at the same time.

In my (barely) humble opinion, mental health needs to be tackled within the framework of a tripartite model, involving the body, mind, and spirit.

Let’s take Joe as an example. Joe is a man who smokes a lot of weed, eats a lot of fast food, works a 9-5 with a 2 hour commute in bumper-to-bumper traffic. He has no close friends or relationships apart from his parents and siblings. Joe has been lacking excitement recently, has had trouble sleeping, and often feels worthless. He suspects he might be depressed.

Even if Joe fits the DSM diagnosis, the question remains: is Joe depressed, or is he reacting quite naturally to his life as a whole?

Sorry Joe, but your life sucks. You designed a terrible life for yourself. It’s not like fictional Joe is unaware of this. He’s actually acutely aware of it, which is why he eventually develops an addiction to harder drugs and alcohol.

Is he then depressed, with a substance abuse disorder? Or is his entire organism off balance?

Either way, Joe can turn things around. But it won’t be by taking an antidepressant (although that may help in the short-term). It’s going to take a dramatic restructuring of his life. It’s going to take nourishing his body, mind, and spirit.

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