Reconnecting with the Natural Self: Adler and Taoism on Holism, Striving, and Self-Care

Much of modern culture encourages mental health practitioners to disconnect from nature, from other people, and from their own bodies. Often it is implied that this is best for them and for society as it prioritizes economic productivity and social conformity. This disconnection from nature has a significant impact on the body, mind, and spirit of practitioners and contributes to therapist burnout. This burnout is detrimental to clients as it reduces efficacy of care.  Alfred Adler promoted a holistic approach to psychotherapy where an individual is seen as the unique sum of many interconnected parts working together to strive for superiority.  This paper will contrast the Adlerian perspective with Taoist philosophy, which emphasizes a non-striving approach in harmony with nature.  Finding the intersection between Adlerian and Taoist ideals sheds light on the delicate balance between care for others and care for the self.  Interventions designed to facilitate self-care in a holistic and non-striving manner are explored.

Keywords: Nature, holism, striving, self-care, Alfred Adler, Taoism

Scott S. Johnson
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