What would you say to the idea that every physical illness has a psychological component? A lot of medical professionals believe this, including Psychoanalyst London founder and clinical specialist María R. de Almeida. Her understanding of the psychological elements of physical illness motivates her to offer what she calls psychosomatic coaching.
The word ‘psychosomatic’ has a negative connotation in modern English. To the untrained, the term denotes an imaginary illness. It denotes a circumstance under which a person convinces themself they are ill despite being completely healthy. They might even display symptoms if their belief in the supposed illness is strong enough.
On the other hand, ‘psychosomatic’ means something completely different to clinical specialists like de Almeida. Their training and knowledge transcends the vernacular and allows them to treat the whole patient in body, mind, and spirit.
Body and Mind
We can begin to get an understanding of psychosomatic coaching by dissecting the word ‘psychosomatic’. The first part of the word (psycho) denotes the mind. It is where we get words like ‘psychology’, ‘psychoanalysis, and ‘psychiatry’. The second part of the word (somatic) comes from the Greek ‘soma’, which describes the human body in its entirety.
Combine psychology with treating the body as a whole and you end up with a holistic approach to dealing with sickness and disease. This is exactly what psychosomatic coaching is all about. Psychosomatic coaching is the practice of helping to improve physical health by improving mental health.
The Fibromyalgia Example
Fibromyalgia is a physical condition psychosomatic coaches are very familiar with. Twenty years ago, the condition was known as fibromyalgia syndrome. It was classified as a syndrome because medical science had not yet uncovered a physical mechanism behind it. Furthermore, the research available at that time showed a strong link between fibromyalgia symptoms and emotional distress.
Science has since uncovered a link between fibromyalgia and an overly sensitive central nervous system. But still, doctors recognise that emotional issues like stress, anxiety, and depression often present alongside fibromyalgia’s physical symptoms.
A psychosomatic coach recognises this link, too. They work with patients to address their emotional issues in hopes that improving mental health will also improve their physical health. A patient capable of overcoming their mental and emotional issues is more likely to experience relief from fibromyalgia symptoms as well. At least that is the thinking.
The Mind Does Matter
Whether or not psychosomatic coaching can effectively cure fibromyalgia is a matter of debate. However, medical science is finally recognising that the mind does matter to physical health. The way people think and feel about things affects the way they feel in their physical bodies, and vice-versa.
That being the case, good health is not a matter of the body only. Likewise, good physical health cannot be separated from the mental component. Genuinely good health encompasses both body and mind. And if you believe that humanity has a spiritual side, a holistic approach to good health also includes the spirit.
Better Health Through Coaching
Addressing help from a holistic standpoint is what psychosomatic coaching is all about. Coaches look to help clients achieve better health by uncovering underlying thoughts, emotions, and behaviours that undermine efforts to be healthy. When those things are uncovered, coach and client can work together to change things.
Do you believe in a holistic approach to good health? If so, set aside the Western practice of treating the body and mind separately. Understand that your physical health affects your mental health and vice-versa. Also understand that psychosomatic coaching could be the key to good health you have been missing all along.