The holistic approach to mental and physical health that I teach my clients work most dramatically for people who have very high stress levels, live fast-paced lives, and are either already sick or are starting to display evidence of illness, whether it’s mental or physical.
The stress of modern life is contributing to all kinds of ailments, such as lack of sleep, irritability, anxiety, and perhaps even actual medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, digestive issues, infertility, migraines, cardiovascular illness, or immune disease. Seeking relief from their troubling symptoms, many people start off by going to see their primary care physician. They often leave that visit with a prescription for Lexapro, to name one of the psychotropic medications prescribed often, hoping it will help. When Lexapro doesn’t work, they try Zoloft, then Celexa, then Prozac desperate for some relief. By this point, they’re feeling frustrated and already worn out, their hopes dashed. The thought of finding a mental health counselor and going down that road seems too daunting. Yet they’re tired of taking medication that doesn’t really help and only creates its own set of side effects.
They’re looking for a different way, and that’s why they call me. Maybe they heard me speak on mindfulness at a health conference, or they took one of my yoga classes that I teach every week. Many find me by searching for “stress relief” on the Psychology Today website. Once they come into my office, my team and I start right away by teaching them tools that provide a palpable sense of calm. We help them see the patterns that have been passed down through their families and are showing up in their own reactions to the unavoidable stresses that we all encounter. We give them space to feel their feelings. And we help them develop a plan they enjoy and can commit to that will help them create the physiological state of relaxation needed for their bodies to heal.
This is exactly the same process that helped me recover from stress-related illness over two decades ago, and that instilled in me the desire to get a Ph.D. in counseling, a license in mental health counseling, and a certification in teaching yoga, so that I could help others heal themselves too. No matter your age or your circumstance, you deserve to feel good about yourself and in order to do so, you’ve got to treat yourself well. The only person who is currently preventing you from feeling and being treated better is you. I can give you recommendations and guidance, but you have to make the changes. But when you do make those changes, you can absolutely lead a happier, healthier life, no matter how severe your illness is or how chaotic your circumstances may be.
In order to start feeling better, there are three things you have to do: You have to actually develop a plan and take action based on the information I am providing you here in my program. That is a given, because, even though your thoughts and emotions have great power, it’s only by taking different actions that will help you create different results. You also have to be patient with the process. Healing yourself takes time. But you know what? Western medicine takes time, too, although you may not think that it does. Finally, you have to trust in the healing process. Believing that you can improve your own health is key. And if it feels inaccessible at this point, know that I’ll give you the science and the true stories from my own life and the lives of my patients to help you access that trust.
Your body is your most powerful ally and partner. You only have to empower it. I know you’re not perfect—no one is. But there is a path that is ideal for you that you can only perfect by starting to take one step after the other. Just as it is true that your reactions to stress have created your current state of illness, it is also true that you can choose new reactions and create a new state of health.
About Melissa Samartano, PhD, LMHC, RYT
As a practicing licensed psychotherapist for over 20 years and the founder of the Holistic Counseling Center, a thriving practice with several licensed and credentialed clinicians working under her at her two offices located in Plymouth, MA and Raynham, MA—Dr. Samartano, PhD, LMHC, RYT has worked one-on-one with thousands of clients. She is consistently sought out as a speaker and travels internationally to speak at wellness symposiums on her holistic approach to counseling. In addition to offering private counseling, Melissa teaches weekly hatha yoga classes and an eight-week mindfulness courses at her center. Having practiced as a licensed psychotherapist for over 20 years, Melissa’s specializes in treating adults, children, and adolescents who suffer from trauma and PTSD, spirituality challenges, relationship issues, depression, anxiety, ADHD, domestic abuse or violence, loss or grief, OCD, parenting challenges, or dissociative disorder.
Melissa received her Ph.D. in metaphysics with a concentration in holistic counseling from the University of Sedona in 2013 and her master’s degree in clinical counseling psychology in 1997 from Lesley University. Also a registered and certified yoga teacher, Melissa did her yoga teacher training at Maha Yoga Center in Bridgewater, MA in 2017. She has studied mindfulness with Thich Nhat Hanh and meditation at the Holistic Meditation Center in Burlington, Vermont.
Melissa was inspired to pursue a career in holistic counseling after spending 10 days in the ICU with a perilously high heart rate of over 300 beats per minute while working in a stressful corporate job. She was in her 20s. When surgery and medication failed to stabilize her condition, Melissa began to study and to treat herself with acupuncture, yoga, meditation, prayer, and metaphysics. Her efforts worked, and now her mission in life is to teach these same healing techniques to as many people as possible.
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