Many people feel that there is a conflict between Eastern and Western philosophies about health and mental health. While in the West the focus is on evidence and pathology, Eastern philosophies seem to focus on the interrelatedness of ‘Body, Mind, and Spirit’ as the foundation of wellness.
How can we define ‘Body, Mind and Spirit’ in terms of health, mental health and healing? According to researchers of the University of Hong Kong who developed the ‘Integrative Body-Mind-Sprit (I-BMS)’ clinical approach model, the aspects of Body, Mind, and Sprit are defined as follows:
- The Physical Body: Sensation, Energy, Physical strength, Body functioning, Physiological response, etc.
- The Mind: Cognition, Perception, Mood, Affection, Problem-solving ability, Memory, Willpower, etc.
- Spirituality: Meaning, Life goals, Morality, Values, Commitment and fulfilment, Relationship with higher-self and cosmos, Life purpose, etc.
There are many Eastern holistic perspectives embedded in the Integrative Body-Mind-Sprit (I-BMS) approach, including Yin-Yang perspectives, Daoist teachings, Buddhist psychology and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Based on the research in the U.S., integrative trauma and torture treatments help survivors recognise the mind-body connection which is integral for treatment for PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder). Mind-body medicine approaches include Tai Chi, Qigong, Reiki, Yoga, Acupuncture and Shiatsu.
In the West, many counselling approaches which were originally developed under Buddhist psychology have become mainstream. They include Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Acceptant and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). Many Energy and Somatic-based psychological models also use theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
We can experience severe depression or anxiety due to adverse experiences (trauma) we had in the past. These memories often stay at an unconscious level and can cause physical illness. In recent years, trauma-informed practice has been getting a critical position because of this. When working with trauma, talk therapy as such is not often enough in counselling. This is because the body remembers trauma and we need to re-connect with our body wisdom to restore our sense of wellbeing.