VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.
Integrative Mental Health and Counseling: Research Considerations and Best Practices
Christine Ciecierski Berger
Increasing numbers of people are engaging complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to supplement their mental health treatment (Barnes, Bloom, & Nahin, 2008; Bausell, Lee, & Berman, 2001; Kessler et al., 2001; Lake, 2009; Wang et al., 2005). CAM approaches include meditation, mindfulness practice, acupuncture, energy healing such as Reiki and Healing Touch, and herbal supplements. In medicine, these therapies are labeled CAM or integrative medicine (IM) as they are often used in conjunction with conventional medical treatment. As of 2007, nearly 40% of Americans have used at least one of these therapies for various reasons (Barnes et al., 2008; Ernst & Ferrer, 2009). According to a National Health Statistics Report on CAM use (Barnes et al., 2008), 4% of the population has utilized these therapies as treatments for anxiety and/or depression and a 12 month analysis of mental health services found that 6.8% of providers for mental health services were CAM providers (Wang et al., 2005) Bausell et al. (2001) found that patients with mental, musculoskeletal, and metabolic disorders were three times more likely to seek CAM treatment than patients with other physical disorders. As increasing numbers of people utilize CAM, it would behoove counselors and counselor educators to be better prepared to work with clients who utilize CAM therapies as adjunctive treatments to their mental health counseling. Working with both CAM and traditional counseling methods could lead to a holistic and potentially optimal treatment process. There are a variety of ways to address these issues, but one idea is referred to as Integrative Mental Health (IMH; Lake, 2006). The idea behind IMH is that there are potentially many multimodal approaches to mental health treatment that include traditional empirically-validated approaches and new models emerging in CAM and other energy healing therapies.