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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

Integrator: You are spending much of your time now out in a different arena and have been for the last 4 or 5 years, doing employer and wellness shows in addition to conferences on Integrative Medicine. Can you comment on the changes you are seeing in those communities? Do you bring up your past in “alternative medicine”?

Strohecker: After meeting wellness pioneer, Dr. John Travis, in 1996 I realized that he had been 20 years ahead of his time when he established the world’s first wellness center in 1975 in Mill Valley, CA and created the Wellness Inventory, the first wellness assessment, as a whole person intake for the center. And in 1996, I felt he was still ahead of his time, but we started a dialogue about collaborating on creating an online program based on the Wellness Inventory. When we launched the program in 2003, the corporate, healthcare and spa worlds were not ready for a whole person wellness model. There are a number of reasons this was true.

"When we launched the Wellness
Inventory program in 2003, the
corporate, healthcare and spa worlds
were not ready for a whole person
wellness model."

As the early wellness movement from the 1970s began to enter the corporate and hospital market in the 1980s, the emerging wellness programs were mostly based on an impersonal health risk model using HRAs (health risk appraisals). The idea was to determine the level of health risk of individual employees, create interventions to lower the health risks (weight loss programs, smoking cessation programs, stress management programs, etc), and thereby lower healthcare costs and insurance premiums. This basic model, which is a disease model, has predominated until the current time. In this world, prevention and wellness are largely synonymous, in contrast to Senator Milkulski’s more enlightened views referenced earlier.

Interestingly, Dr. Travis had been a protégé of Dr. Lewis Robbins, the creator of the Health Risk Appraisal and had helped create the first computerized HRA for the CDC. However, he chose to move beyond the Health Risk Model to create the Wellness Inventory, which operates through a wellness model, looking at the whole person, and the influences "beneath the iceberg" that are underlying an individual’s current lifestyle and behavior.

My interactions at worksite wellness conferences up until about two years ago, were largely the same. Employers, if that had a wellness program, were using a program based on health risk and the disease model. “We already have an HRA, we don’t need anything more for our wellness program,” was a common refrain. Another common comment was, “We don’t see any value in wellness coaching.”

Then, things began to shift. I think there were a number of factors. The consumer wellness revolution continued to grow, raising awareness among corporate employees and managers. Talks about health and wellness coaching, Motivational Interviewing, Appreciative Inquiry, Prochaska’s Six Stages of Change, and Positive Psychology began to appear in the conference programs. These represent parallel threads in a larger evolution in how we look at personal change and personal wellbeing.
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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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