DVWN's Guide to the Complementary Therapies,

Guide To Complementary Therapies

There are a wide range of different forms of alternative and complementary treatment, many with differing philosophies, but what they all have in common is that they see people as consisting of more than just a physical body. Therapy is aimed at the whole person, who is seen as a unique individual, an inter-relationship of physical, emotional, and spiritual components. A brief note on terminology: at one time the word used for these different forms of attempting to heal was "alternative" medicine. Gradually it has become known as "complementary" to highlight the fact that it can be used to complement conventional medicine. At Delaware Valley Wellness Network we like to think of it as "integrative" care, in which an individual can integrate both conventional and complementary approaches.

Enclosed is a brief description of a number of approaches to help you gain a clearer understanding of the therapies available today. The practitioners employing these methods include; Acupuncturists, Body Workers, Chiropractors, Energy Therapists, Homeopathic Educators, Macrobiotic Educators, Naturopathic Physicians, Nurses, Nutritionists, Psychotherapists, Psychiatrists, Physicians, and Stress Reduction Educators. All of the practitioners at Delaware Valley Wellness Network support their clients choosing adjunctive therapies to enhance health and well-being.

Chinese Medicine is a philosophy of nature that involves herbal preparations, food therapy, exercise, and massage, and acupuncture. It involves a completely separate form of anatomy, physiology and diagnosis which relates to imbalances of energy or Qi in the body (Qi is pronounced "Chee"). Energy circulates through pathways known as meridians or channels. Acupressure and Acupuncture seeks to rebalance these disturbances through stimulation of specific points along these channels.

Acupressure is a term encompassing any number of massage techniques that use manual pressure to stimulate energy points on the body.

Acupuncture is a system of treatment which has been in existence for thousands of years. It is totally different from Western Medicine, having its own complete system of anatomy, physiology and diagnosis, which relates illness to imbalances of energy in the body. This imbalance causes a disruption in the flow of vital energy, Qi, that circulates through pathways in the body known as meridians and channels. Acupuncture seeks to re-balance the fundamental disturbance in the body's energy through the stimulation of specific points which lie along these channels. There are, in fact, two types of acupuncture which are used. The most common is the Traditional Chinese method, and the other is known as "trigger point needling". The latter is of most value in treating painful conditions, but it also has a variety of other uses.

Shiatsu is a rhythmic series of finger pressures over the entire body along energetic meridians.

Five Element Shiatsu is based on the naturalistic Chinese Medicine's Law of the Five Elements. The Five Elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water and they have corresponding physical and emotional aspects in people. These physical and emotional energies move in specific pathways or meridians on the surface of the entire body. The goal of the Five Element Shiatsu practitioner is the maintenance of a smooth flow of these energies through the body to help prevent or alleviate dis-ease which they believe is the result of poor energy flow caused by the effects of an unbalanced lifestyle: excessive work, little exercise, poor diet, and stress.

This is a rapidly growing therapeutic system which is founded upon the ever increasing amount of scientific evidence -- technically called Psychoneuroimmunology -- that the ways in which people behave, think and feel, have both subtle and profound effects on the body. Thus things like negative thoughts and feelings may themselves be a source of illness. The best known of these, and the most highly researched, is emotional stress as a cause or at least a contributing factor to disease. So, therapists working with this model employ an array of stress reduction techniques to help people with painful and/or serious illnesses, as well as working on negative thoughts and feelings to prevent the development or progression of illnesses, and to restore wellness.

Hypnosis, Imagery, and Meditation
These behavioral techniques are taught to a client to help with changing behaviors, such as habits, as well as learning new skills such as relaxation and positive imaging. These techniques have a measurable effect on the reduction of the stress response in the body.

A tehnique in which one learns to monitor and gain control over automatic, reflex-regulated body functions by using information obtained from various types of instruments.

Developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, this training involves techniques for stress reduction, and pain management. Often taught in classes, but may be experienced individually with the assistance of a teacher.

Barbara Brennan Work
Barbara Brennan Practitioners work with the energy system through laying on of hands techniques which address spiritual, emotional, and physical issues. Through an in-depth system of training these practitioners utilize channeled guidance as well as counseling support to assist an individualÕs process of centering and returning to the self, which is their definition of healing.

Developed by Jon Upledger. This technique works with the cerebrospinal fluid which is housed within the cranium, spine and sacrum. The craniosacral rhythm circulated by hydraulic movement can be balanced through the light touch of a therapist.

This therapy is based on the premise that all nature is permeated by energy fields and currents. The flow and balance of this energy in the body is the basis of health. Varying degrees of touch release blocks and restore balance.

Reiki Practitioners are initiated, training is passed down. Practitioners transmit Universal Life Energy, which guides Chi, or life force, by a light touch, or placing hands in specific positions gently on and around the body.

Therapeutic Touch involves laying on of hands, assessing and unblocking energy, evoking relaxation and the client's healing potential, as guided through the practitionerÕs intention.

Addresses the traumas, tensions, memories stored in the musculoskeletal system. Practicioners utilize a number of thrapeutic techniques to facilitate release work and awareness for further integration/development of the self (also see body oriented psychotherapy, and dancemovement therapy).

Trager is a hands-on approach to mind/body education. Gentle, rhythmic body movement promotes relaxation, mobility, and mental calm. Also releases disconnections in the central nervous system. Promotes trust and safety in body.

Yoga is a system of self-improvement which includes engaging in various postures, relaxation exercises and breathing techniques for balancing energy flow, and lifestle management. There are a number of types of yoga,the more popular forms include Hatha and Kundalini. Other popular forms include Kripalu and Iyengar, named after individual teachers.

Individualized yoga sessions in which the practitioner assists the client in yoga postures according to an individualized program developed between the practitioner and the client.

The Expressive Therapies, also known as the Creative Art Therapies involve, Art Therapy, Movement Therapy, Music Therapy, and Drama Therapy. Each modality may utilize arts, movement, art, music, drama, in the process of psychotherapy to further development , growth, and integration of the self. The focus is utilizing the creative process to help an individual mobilize awareness and resources available within. Depending on the therapists style and training, and the client's needs, therapy may involve an integration of art mediums or focus on a particular art medium.

This was very popular in the United States until the beginning of this century. It is based on the basic principle that "like cures like". Homeopaths have identified substances, for example sulfur, that when given to healthy people in large doses cause certain groups of symptoms. When they see someone suffering from that same group of symptoms, they will then administer an extremely dilute solution of that substance, prepared in a special way, to assist the healing process. One of the central doctrines of homeopathy, first laid down over two hundred years ago, is that there is a vital force in the body which is constantly striving to maintain health. Disruption of this force underlies illness, and treatment is aimed at first obtaining a detailed understanding of the individual and of the nature of the symptoms so that the homeopath can determine the best remedy for the individual.

This is primarily a physical therapy which aims to normalize the activity of the nervous system through the manipulation of bones and joints. While some practitioners use the methods only to help musculoskeletal problems, most apply a sophisticated theory that misalignments of the spine may cause a range of diseases, from arthritis to hormonal disorders. Kinesiology Kiniesology involves muscle testing for functional neurological evaluation, establishing strengths and weaknesses.

Since its inception over 100 years ago, the central tenets of osteopathic medicine are on prevention as well as cure, and to treat people and not just symptoms. The best known part of osteopathy is osteopathic manipulation, which is based on an understanding of the inter-relationships of the structure and the function of the body. But osteopathic medicine is more than that, emphasizing the inter-relationships of mind, body and spirit. Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger points are points on muscles, ligaments and tendons that, when touched, are extremely painful and, because of that pain, often cause referred pain to another part of the body. The Nimmo Receptor-Tonus Chiropractic Technique uses digital pressure to remove "nerve interference" at trigger points. This develops a response (reflex) from the body which causes the blood vessels to open up and enlarge. Built-up toxins then have a chance to escape into the blood stream.

Massage is a systematic, therapeutic stroking and kneading of the body. Types of massage therapy include Jin Shin Do, Shiatsu, Swedish, Reflexology. (see Chinese medicine section for Shiatsu description)

Reflexology involves stroking or applying pressure to one part of the body in order to effect changes in another part of the body. This method emphasizes free-flowing vital force, or Chi. It is usually applied to the feet.

As is common with virtually all complementary therapies, naturopathy is based upon the notion that the body is a self-healing organism. The naturopath works to enhance the body's own ability to heal itself by using a combination of nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and advise on exercise. Some also use such approaches as counseling, hydrotherapy and Traditional Chinese Medicine. As one would expect from a specialty requiring a high level of competence in many fields, there are, as yet, few naturopathic physicians in the United States.

This speciality provides dietary education and guidance on the restoration and maintenance of health using dietary balance, and if necessary, nutritional supplementation. As an example, practitioners might recommend regular doses of vitamins to maintain health, as well as using high dosages of vitamins under certain circumstances. They will also concentrate on identifying food sensitivities and subtle nutritional deficiencies, and recommending individually tailored diets using whole, unprocessed foods.

Includesnatural principles of diet and lifestyle, which includes focusing on locally grown and seasonal foods, as well as organically grown foods. Made popular in the 70's from it's founder Misio Kushi. Teachers teach principles of cooking, food combination as well as exercise and hygeine practices.

Psychotherapy is a treatment which primarily addresses issues such as addictions, anxiety, depression, gender issues, health recovery, parenting, physical and emotional pain, anxiety, stress, self-esteem, relationships, and family issues. Treatment approaches depend of the style and approach of a particular therapist, as well as the relationship between client and therapist.
Some methods associated with all psychotherapy may be physical health and practices, imagery, dream work, emotional catharsis, expressive arts, meditation, states of consciousness, existential questions, acceptance of disowned aspects of self, spiritual disciplines, present moment awareness, problem-solving skills and establishing individual paths to wholeness.

Body Oriented Psychotherapy
This approach furthers exploration of the mind/body connection. Practitioners utilize a range of techniques to facilitate the relationship and health between all parts of the self: mind, body, and spirit. Practitioners often utilize awareness techniques, breath work, and emotional release. Additional Body-oriented approaches include: Bioenergetics, Dance-Movement Therapy, Body Synergy, Barbara Brennan Work, Therapeutic Touch, Rebirthing, Cranio-Sacral, and Somatic Work.

Gestalt Psychotherapy
This involves a partnership between client and therapist toward the emergence of self support and authenticity. The client is invited into a conscious experience of interior process and relating style while the therapist takes an active role attending to the clientÕs dialogue and body language, emphasizing awareness, rather than interpretation, experience rather than just talking.

Transpersonal Psychotherapy
Transpersonal psychotherapy aims at the integration of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of well being. Transpersonal therapy seeks to help clients blend the spiritual and personal dimensions of their lives, fulfill their unique, creative individuality and expand their experience of consciousness and being. Therapy focuses on a client's sense of life purpose, explores personal and spiritual concerns and experiences, stabilizes and integrates insights, helps clients expand their perceptions and sense of identity, and cultivates meaning and sacredness in life.

Disclaimer: The material presented here is solely for educational purposes. DVWN does not endorse any of these treatment methods to provide a substitution for medical treatment. DVWN does not claim any of these therapies to provide diagnosis, treatment or a cure for any conditions. Practitioner membership in DVWN is based on meeting service or practitioner required training, certification and/or licensure and the payment of a uniform yearly fee to DVWN, which is not dependent on referrals. DVWN members may be removed for failure to maintain State required licenses or liability insurance or to pay the yearly fee. DVWN does not offer medical advice, but provides a referral service between DVWN members and the general public guided by specific requests such as physical condition or service location, with subsequent referrals made to DVWN by callers resulting from client-directed searches. Customers to DVWN are tracked through a non-identifying record of first name and last initial.

This report was developed by Richard Petty , MD,M.Sc, Medical Advisor to Delaware Valley Wellness Network, and Lynn Feinman, President of Delaware Valley Wellness Network.

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