We (Professional Development Resources) have expanded our course catalog to include a variety of new continuing education (CE) courses dealing with various aspects of complementary and alternative medicine. New topics include mindfulness meditation, yoga as medicine, self-healing through breathing exercises, and the use of herbal medicines. The courses are intended to introduce health professionals to the healing power of traditional approaches to health and wellness.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCAAM), defining complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is not easy. It is generally considered to be a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine. “Complementary medicine” refers to use of CAM together with conventional medicine, such as using acupuncture in addition to usual care to help lessen pain. “Alternative medicine” refers to use of CAM in place of conventional medicine. “Integrative medicine” (also called integrated medicine) refers to a practice that combines both conventional and CAM treatments for which there is evidence of safety and effectiveness.
“We think it is important for clinicians to be familiar with these approaches for two reasons,” says Leo Christie, PhD, CEO of Professional Development Resources. “First, many of the clients we see are using such treatments, so we need to know about them. A recent survey indicated that about 38% of adult Americans use CAM. Are the treatments safe? Do they work? We need to worry about interactions between certain herbal supplements and prescription medications. Second, researchers are starting to produce a body of scientific evidence on the efficacy of complementary and alternative approaches. As new and effective treatments become available, we need to be in a position to discuss them with our clients.”
Among the new courses offered are:
- Mindfulness: The Healing Power of Compassionate Presence
- A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook
- Yoga as Medicine: the Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing
- Breathing: The Master Key to Self-Healing
- Healing the Whole Person: Applications of Yoga Psychotherapy
- Alternative Therapies: Herbs I (What Every Clinician Should Know)
- Mindfulness and the Therapeutic Relationship
Christie adds “we emphasize in our courses that – as with any medical treatment – there can be risks with CAM therapies.” These general precautions from NCAAM can help to minimize risks:
- Select CAM practitioners with care. Find out about the practitioner’s training and experience.
- Be aware that some dietary supplements may interact with medications or other supplements, may have side effects of their own, or may contain potentially harmful ingredients not listed on the label. Also keep in mind that most supplements have not been tested in pregnant women, nursing mothers, or children.
- Tell all your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use.