Counseling in Combination with Integrative Medicine

“Life is not merely physical, it is a force of energy.” --Rev. Ellen Debenport

I have worked as a staff therapist at Samaritan Center since August 2011. One of the main benefits of my employment at the Center has been my personal and professional experiences in accessing our Integrative Medicine (IM) program. IM includes Acupuncture, Herbal Supplementation, Tai chi, Yoga, and Nutritional Counseling, among others. During COVID 19 and our transition to Telehealth, our IM providers continue to deliver services to our clients and are helping them learn how to utilize Acupressure and other modalities to relieve stress, anxiety, pain, and a host of other issues. Did you also know that IM can include guided imagery, breathing techniques, and movement or stretching exercises?

Mental Health Therapy Combined with Integrative Medicine Treatment

There are countless benefits clients receive who are simultaneously receiving counseling along with IM therapies. These address a wide spectrum of maladies that can include PTSD, anxiety, depression, pain/underlying medical conditions or injuries, other mood disorders, and general stress. Refer to this article from Pacific College on how Acupuncture/Acupressure addresses Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Our clients have frequently entered the door of Integrative Medicine and have eventually agreed to a referral to Counseling. Or, they have entered the door of Counseling and agreed to a referral to Integrative Medicine.

Synergy, Expediency, Progress

Director of Integrative Medicine Kim Layne, states: “Clients who receive Integrative Medicine treatments prior to their counseling session report feeling calmer, more centered, and better able to communicate what they are feeling to their therapists. Those who receive IM treatments afterward report feeling as though it helps them process things that were brought up in their counseling session.” As a counselor, I have had the absolute pleasure of experiencing clients who report improved sleep and an increased immune system response. They also report an increased widening “window of tolerance” and ability to become more responsive vs. reactive to life stressors. My clients and I work the puzzle of alleviating negative, sometimes traumatic memories, and energy stored in their physical, mental, and emotional bodies, through a range of interventions that might include a modality called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR (watch this video by my colleague Jack Swope). Those who agree to incorporate their counseling (often those in the midst of EMDR processing), with IM often report feeling that the sometimes-painful aspects of the counseling therapy process become more manageable and less “intense.” They remark how much quicker they begin to feel relief and are frequently more capable of integrating the crucial aspects of their life experiences in need of deep exploration.

What if you are under the care of a medical doctor or psychiatrist?

Integrative Medicine practitioners (as well as mental health practitioners) always make sure we are aware of any pharmaceuticals or supplements the client is taking. If the IM provider notes that a client is taking a particular drug or supplement, they conduct thorough research to clarify that there are no adverse drug-herb interactions prior to prescribing a formula that is safe and beneficial for the particular issue. They will request that the client stagger the herbs an hour or more with the pharmaceutical to remove the potential for decreased absorption or efficacy of either substance. Counselors and practitioners also request that our clients grant permission to coordinate care with their primary care physicians and/or psychiatrists. Most clients do grant the permission, realizing that best practice includes collaboration, consultation, and teamwork to help them obtain the success they desire.

In Addition:

If you are interested in learning more about Integrative Medicine, check out a comprehensive book on the subject: Invisible Rainbow, by Changlin Zhang. This book provides a scientific basis for the success behind alternative therapies such as acupuncture, Qi Gong, and Ayurveda. It’s an illuminating discussion on the efficacy of these approaches in treating a number of chronic conditions. [contact-form][contact-field label='Do you have questions or comments for Teresa?' type='textarea' required='1'/][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][/contact-form]