Imagine, just as Stacy starts her new job, a pandemic breaks out. She had just started living on her own and is therefore in a new situation. Stacy is aware that it always takes her a considerable amount of time to get used to a new situation. As a result, she has been quicker to reach for an alcoholic drink as of late. She also spends more time in bed and struggles to concentrate properly on her new work. She is strict with herself and thinks it is nonsense that she is feeling down. She regularly calls her sister, which helps her. Nonetheless she reports to a psychologist: “I don’t feel so good, I had a nice childhood, but I don’t understand why I suddenly feel so bad.”.
How everything is interconnected
Not feeling well is not always the result of a singular event. There are many different factors that can affect how you feel. You can look at one part of your life, but you can also take into account several factors: this is called taking a holistic perspective. With the help of the holistic theory you look at the ‘whole’ , instead of focusing specifically on one area of life. Using this model, you will get insight into your personality, upbringing, environmental factors, your complaints and the influence these factors have on each other. It can clearly show how everything is interconnected.
The holistic model
To examine these different factors, a psychologist can work with you to create a holistic model. The holistic model consists of the following components:
- Factors that can’t be changed and that have been given to you.
- Personality factors: factors related to your genetic predisposition, for example, IQ, temperament, extroversion, emotional stability or carefulness. In short: your character.
- Environmental factors: factors that have to do with your environment such as your upbringing, cultural background, origin, and any trauma. In short, factors that are generally beyond your control.
- Relatively firm beliefs about yourself, the other and the world around you.
These are beliefs that you can examine (with the help of a psychologist) and work on:
- Core beliefs: how do you see yourself, the other and the world around you? For example, “I am worthless and will never achieve anything in my life.” or “Everything should go the way I want it to.”
- Coping styles: the way you deal with problems and stress. For example, do you become active, avoidant, passive, or seek social support when dealing with a difficult situation?
- Self-image: this is a combination of ideas, thoughts, and beliefs that you have acquired about yourself over time. How do you feel about yourself?
- Life-rules: the rules regarding behavior that you have taught yourself (your habits).
- What are your complaints and how are they progressing:
- Stressors: which factors negatively affect my complaints?
- Protective Factors: what kept my problems from getting worse?
- Consequences: how do your complaints affect your daily life (social relationships, work, school, household, leisure)?
Applying the holistic model
If we apply the holistic model to Stacy’s situation, we can conclude that it is not surprising that she does not feel well. Briefly:
- Stacy has recently moved (environmental factors) and sometimes has difficulty getting used to new situations (fixed factors).
- Stacy thinks it is nonsense that she does not feel well (core belief / self-image: I am weak when I do not feel well), lies in bed longer and drinks more alcohol (coping). She is in a new situation and concludes that she always has to get used to new situations (life-rule: you see, I am struggling to manage this new situation).
- Her new work brings new stimuli (stressor). She regularly calls her sister to feel better (protective factor). Stacy notices that she spends more time in bed and has difficulty concentrating on her new work (consequences).
With the help of the holistic theory you can provide more structure in regard to your complaints: often it can provide insight and an explanation for your psychological complaints.