Here’s a big secret: mental health care professionals already are practicing CAM under the guise of conventional medicine. Relaxation therapies, such as visualization and guided imagery, clinical hypnotherapy, and other modalities sometimes come under the label “mind-body.”

Of course, for most caregivers, the state of scientific evidence guides clinical practice. Nonetheless, mental healthcare–ranging from psychiatry to counseling–already includes many therapies at the borderland of what might be considered wither “conventional” or “CAM.” This gives rise to many legal issues, including those concerning licensure, malpractice, informed consent, discipline, access to treatments, and reimbursement, as well as ethical questions at the interface between professions and models of the mind-body-spirit, consciousness, whatever we may be.
I hope this blog adds to a wonderful dialogue between the professions, and helps bridge the gap between our understanding of “matter” and “energy.” Already there is a movement known as “Energy Psychology” at one of the spectrum, which adds to transpersonal psychology a focus on insights from energy healing to psychological theory. There is also a movement afoot within mainstream psychiatric circles to build a more permanent structure for discussion of CAM theories. And there are multiple overlaps with the topic of Spirituality in Healthcare, including healing at the borderland of medicine and religion.
Dr. James Lake is one of many mental health professionals active on this fron. He is a co-author, with Bob Flaws, of Chinese Medical Psychiatry: A Clinical Manual, and numerous articles and book chapters on complementary medicine in psychiatry. Dr. Lake has been in the vanguard of clinical care in this arena, as well as in designing algorithms integrate viable CAM options into psychiatry.
Stay tuned for updates.