What is Integrative Medicine
“Integrative Medicine is the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.” (Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, http://www.imconsortium.org/about/)
Defining the Terms
Within our Center, integrative, complementary, or alternative medicine and modalities are distinct from Western, conventional, or allopathic medicine in that many arose from Eastern philosophy and from a different view of the genesis of illness, healing, and body mechanics.
“Integrative” and “complementary” refer to the action of combining alternative modalities among themselves, as well as with conventional treatments, for maximum healing effect. Moreover, integrative and complementary describe the relationship between the modalities and the body itself, where the modalities interact with and enhance the natural healing capacity of the human being.
Alternative indicates a choice among equals. Where one modality is an alternative to another treatment, it suggests that either might be effective. One might be preferable to the other based on certain factors, but the outcomes are likely to be equal. At the Center for Integrative Medicine, alternative does not imply the dismissal or rejection of the value of conventional medicine.
With this framework of common language, we can describe our view of patients and their treatments:
The pathway to healing is unique to each patient. Our role is to guide every patient along his or her own path.
Each patient is viewed and assessed in the areas of mind, body and spirit. Every patient is a person, beyond the confines of any disease, and our treatments care for the whole person.
Empowerment and Partnership
The patient-practitioner relationship is a partnership among equals. The patient’s participation and insights are essential to choosing the healing path and to achieving optimal health.
Safety and Choice
Patients are given the choice of healing modalities as long as those modalities are medically safe and practiced under appropriate supervision. Our professional role is to evaluate the effectiveness of modalities, seek validation in supporting research data, and recommend a combination and sequence of modalities based on each individual’s particular case.
Model of Wellness
While the concept of wellness is usually not a part of conventional medicine, it is important to most of us. We believe our role is to help patients re-establish wellness in their life. We often begin motivating patients to take slow steps towards wellness at the first visit. In our work we follow the Wellness Wheel Model accepted by the National Wellness Institute in 2000.
Today many researchers and wellness promoters posit that because wellness is a choice to shape a healthy lifestyle, this wellness wheel may shift within an individual’s lifetime millions of times and is meant to be a locus for reflection, not necessarily full emulation. Also of note is that though not indicated on most wellness wheels, personal responsibility is assumed to be central. For some, the rays emanating out from the center of the wheel symbolize personal responsibility.