Recommended by Doctors

“Does the medical world encourage holistic stress reduction?”

Many allopathic medical doctors, training institutions, and treatment centers recognize benefit in holistic stress-reduction techniques, including the importance of working  consciously with awareness and energy.


“What do medical doctors say?”

A national survey of referral patterns conducted way back in 1996 by the Alternative Therapies journal, 94% of U.S. board-certified family physicians and internists were willing to refer people for at least one of the following:

  • relaxation techniques 86%
  • biofeedback 85%
  • therapeutic massage 66%
  • hypnosis 63%
  • acupuncture 56%
  • meditation 54%
  • chiropractic 47%
  • spiritual healing 24%
  • homeopathy 15%
  • energy healing 14%
  • vitamin or herbal therapy 6%1)Blumberg D.L., Grant W.D., Hendricks S.R., Kamps C.A. & Dewan M.J. (1996). The Physician and Unconventional Medicine. Alternative Therapies. 1, 31 – 35.

“What do medical schools teach?

Harvard Medical School (HMS) offers continuing education for clinicians wanting to integrate holistic approaches.  For example, a summer of 2014 course discussed the role of stress in illness and applications ‘the relaxation response’.2)Benson, H., Fricchione, G. & Webster, A. (2014, August). Harvard Medical School, Department of Continuing Education 25th Annual Summer Seminars: Mind/Body Medicine: Components, Research, Techniques and Applications with Emphasis on the Relaxation Response. Retrieved from http://cme.hmssummer.com/4376    Another summer of 2014 course at HMS focused on cutting-edge research into the neurology of mindful self-compassion and looks at how to enhance the effectiveness of clinical practice with meditation, mindfulness and compassion.3)Germer, C. (2014, August). Harvard Medical School, Department of Continuing Education 25th Annual Summer Seminars: Meditation and Mindfulness in Clinical Practice: Enhancing Treatment Effectiveness and Personal well-being. Retrieved from http://cme.hmssummer.com/4496  Mindful Self-Compassion is a spiritual health coaching technique.

Many medical schools are training medical students to be able to guide patients towards holistic approaches.  In an unpublished survey of all 125 U.S. medical schools cited in a report by the A.M.A. Council on Scientific Affairs in 1997, over 50 offered elective for-credit courses on alternative approaches, and 18 others offered programs on this topic.4)American Medical Association. (1997). Report 12 of the Council on Scientific Affairs (A-97): Alternative Medicine (CSA Rep. 12, A-97). Chicago, Illinois, p. 12.


“Do medical health clinics offer holistic stress reduction?”

Biofeedback

The multi-specialty Mayo Clinic, rated a top hospital by U.S. News and World Report, describes the holistic stress-reduction technique of biofeedback as a means to:

  • “learn to control your body functions
  • receive information (feedback) about your body (bio)
  • focus on making subtle changes in your body … to achieve the results you want, such as reducing pain
  • give you the power to use your thoughts to control your body … to help with a health condition or physical performance…to help manage many physical and mental health issues.”5)Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014, August). Biofeedback: Using Your Mind to Improve Your Health, Definition. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/biofeedback/basics/definition/PRC-20020004

Professional proponents, and practitioners, of biofeedback include doctors, nurse practitioners, psychologists, social workers, counselors, mental health clinicians, and athletic sports trainers and coaches.6)The Quantum Alliance. (2014, August) Who Uses Biofeedback? Retrieved from http://www.thequantumalliance.com/indigo/who_uses_biofeedback/

According to the Mayo Clinic, biofeedback appeals to health care consumers because:  “It’s non-invasive.  It may reduce or eliminate the need for medications. It may be a treatment alternative for those who can’t tolerate medications … an option when medications haven’t worked well … an alternative to medications for some conditions during pregnancy. It helps people take charge of their health”.7)Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014, August). Biofeedback: Using Your Mind to Improve Your Health, Why It’s Done. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/biofeedback/basics/why-its-done/prc-20020004

Energy Techniques

U.S. hospitals and clinics throughout the world train doctors and nurses to integrate hands-on work with the energy field into traditional treatment protocols.  Therapeutic Touch®, Reiki, and Reiki-derived New Paradigm Multi-dimensional Transformation® are three such techniques.  A 2008 USA Today article reported that, in 2007, 15% of U.S. hospitals (over 800) offered Reiki as a regular part of patient services.8)Gill, L. Special for USA Today. (2008, September 15). More hospitals offer alternative therapies for mind, body, spirit. Retrieved from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-09-14-alternative-therapies_N.htm

According to the Mayo Clinic, Reiki is:  “a non-invasive healing method that promotes relaxation, enhances the body’s natural healing abilities and fosters mental, emotional and spiritual well-being… based on the idea of an energy field that permeates the human body.”  The aim is “to restore order to the body whose energy has become unbalanced”9)Mayo Clinic Health System, Franciscan Healthcare in Onalaska. (2014, August). Reiki. Retrieved from http://mayoclinichealthsystem.org/locations/onalaska/medical-services/complementary-medicine/center-for-health-and-healing/reiki

Healing Power of Spirit “A system of medicine which denies or ignores its existence (spirit) will be incomplete because it leaves out the most fundamental quality of human existence, the spiritual dimension.” Dr. Richard Gerber, M.D. author of Vibrational Medicine


“Would my medical doctor support me going for a holistic stress-reduction technique such as biofeedback?”

Every doctor is different.  Professionals are increasingly aware that today’s American healthcare consumers are demanding gentler, less toxic, less invasive first-line interventions and more integrative and alternative options,10)Jonas, W. B. & Levin, J. (1999). Essentials of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Lipincott, Williams & Wilkins.. Many also aim to respectfully partner with people who value self-determination in making the best possible decisions about their health care.  The Hippocratic Oath, primum non nocere, ‘first, do no harm’ is the primary bio-ethical principle students are taught in healthcare schools worldwide.  In addition to helping determine whether interventions could potentially harm the people seeking their advice, many medical practitioners are aware of the health benefits that become accessible through learning to reduce stress and relax.

The effectiveness biofeedback has been widely documented in research, and there are insurance companies offering coverage for this service.  Many medical practitioners are informed on what CPT codes they can use to help people obtain insurance coverage for their stress-reduction modality of interest.11)The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, Inc. (2014, August). Efficacy. Retrieved from http://www.aapb.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=344012)Biofeedback Certification International Alliance. (2014, August).  Biofeedback Articles.  Retrieved from http://www.bcia.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3690.

In sum, people may find it useful and empowering to discuss their holistic-stress reduction aims and needs with medical practitioners.

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