|From Alternative Medicine a Definitive Guide to the Wellness Inventory - An Interview with Pioneering Entrepreneur Jim Strohecker|
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.
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.
"When we launched the Wellness
Inventory program in 2003, the
corporate, healthcare and spa worlds
were not ready for a whole person
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
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
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.
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 of complementary, alternative and integrative medicine since 1983. Happily, I have learned some things. I was once called an "expert in alternative medicine" by......more