The Holistic Wellness Model

Over the past decade, research on health, well-being and wellness has increased (Mayer, 2011) and the importance of positive psychology concepts has been emphasised (Seligman, 2011). Positive psychology is understood as by Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (2000) in terms of understanding and fostering the factors that allow societies, communities and individuals to florish. One of the central concepts in the positive psychology movement is the neo-Adlerian HWM (Myers & Sweeney, 2008; Myers et al., 2000; Sweeney & Witmer, 1991; Witmer & Sweeney, 1992) which is based on the principles of holism by Adler, defined by Myers and Sweeney (2004, pp. 334-336), based on the Adlerian theory as the indivisibility of the self, the focus on the whole rather than on the parts, the focus on the interaction of the parts towards the whole and the social context contributing to the whole.

In the HWM, the five life tasks of neo-Adlerian Individual Psychology are used as an organising principle of the various components of wellness (Myers, 2009). Wellness is defined as a “way of life orientation toward optimal health and wellbeing in which body, mind, and spirit are integrated by the individual to live more fully within the human and natural community” (Myers et al., 2000, p. 252).

In the model, spirituality is conceived as the core life task of the five life tasks which are spirituality, self-direction, work and leisure, friendship and love (Myers et al., 2000). These life tasks are viewed as dynamically interlinked with external life forces (family, religion, education, community, government, media, business/ industry). These life forces are seen as impacting on the life tasks and vice versa. Finally, global events (such as disease, war, pollution, economic exploitation, poverty) are connected to life tasks and life forces (Sweeney & Witmer, 1991; Witmer & Sweeney, 1992).

The HWM has been successfully applied in psychobiographical research (Burnell, 2013; Fouche & Van Niekerk, 2010; Nel, 2013) to reconstruct the lives of extraordinary individals in a theoretically positive psychology framework. This model is used to reconstruct the life of Paulo Coelho in terms of a holistic wellness approach, integrating body, mind and spirit, life tasks, life forces and global events (Myers, Sweeney, & Witmer, 2001). The HWM will be described in-depth in Chap. 4.

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