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 From Alternative Medicine a Definitive Guide to the Wellness Inventory - An Interview with Pioneering Entrepreneur Jim Strohecker 
 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Integrator Blog by . View all columns in series

"Only a focus on personal responsibility,
wellness, and healthy lifestyle choices will
begin to shift the health of our nation.
No amount of treatment alone, even the
most enlightened, natural, non-invasive
treatments will turn the tide."

I have always felt that the practice alternative medicine, CAM and Integrative Medicine tend to focus too strongly on diagnosis and treatment, and not enough on self-care and creating wellness. I understand that this is due, in large part, to trying to fit into the current reimbursement structure and the current style of practice, which is based on a disease model. However, I believe the time is right to begin to shift to a model of healthcare that incorporates wellness as the fundamental entry point to the healthcare system. Only a focus on personal responsibility, wellness, and healthy lifestyle choices will begin to shift the health of our nation. No amount of treatment alone, even the most enlightened, natural, non-invasive treatments will turn the tide.

This is where the public and private sectors, Wall Street to Main Street, Madison Avenue to the Washington, DC, board rooms to grass roots activists, need to become involved to help support what Senator Harkin calls a ”Wellness Society”, and what I like to call a “Culture of Wellness”. As we saw in the testimony from Drs. Andrew Weil, Mehmet Oz, Dean Ornish and Mark Hyman, before the Senate HELP Committee back in February of 2009, there are many ways to start moving in that direction from Dr. Oz’ Health Corps, health coaching, community activism, and simple self-care (Dr. Weil’s opening remark about breathing exercises as the ultimate and most effective single self-care practice).

"I believe that wellness is inherent
in the philosophy as well as the
self-care practices for many CAM
professionals.

"However, in practice, wellness all
too often remains an unexercised
or unutilized potential in the
interaction with the patient."

Regarding the issue of wellness being imbedded in CAM practices, I believe that wellness is inherent in the philosophy as well as the self-care practices for many CAM professionals. For this reason, CAM providers can probably more effectively expand the wellness dimension in their practices than a practitioner with no CAM or Integrative medicine training. However, in practice, wellness all too often remains an unexercised or unutilized potential in the interaction with the patient. Wellness is a personal journey towards a higher level of wellbeing. Possibly the greatest gift a practitioner can give to a patient is to inspire and support the patient’s desire to improve their overall level and health and wellbeing, and thereby improve all aspects of their life. Wellness is more than providing information and self-care techniques, and it is more than just prevention. As Senator Barbara Mikulski stated in the same Integrative Medicine hearings: ”Prevention, or preventing disease, is an outdated concept. The new concept is creating wellness.”

Image

How do we create wellness? John W. Travis, MD, MPH, one of the original founders of the wellness movement in the 1970s and creator of the Wellness Inventory, stated this clearly and eloquently, “Wellness is a choice…. a decision you make to move toward optimal health. Wellness is a way of life…. a lifestyle you design to achieve your highest potential for well-being.” Wellness is driven by the individual. No one can take that journey for you.

The Illness-Wellness Continuum (above) created by Dr. Travis in 1972 while he was a resident at Johns Hopkins and working the US Public Health Service shows the relationship of the Wellness and Treatment Paradigms, and can further clarify the wellness concept. Moving from the center to the left shows a progressively worsening state of health. Moving to the right of center indicates increasing levels of health and well-being.

The Treatment Paradigm can only take an individual to the neutral point, where the symptoms of disease have been alleviated. The Wellness Paradigm, utilized at any point on the continuum, moves one towards ever higher levels of wellbeing. If the Wellness and Treatment Paradigms can be integrated in healthcare practices of the future we can support the patient’s personal wellness journey while providing state of the art integrative health care.
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 About The Author
Resumes are useful in employment decisions. I provide this background so that you may understand what informs the work which you may employ in your own. I have been involved as an organizer-writer in the emerging fields......moreJohn Weeks
 
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