Mind-Body Therapy Closing in on Mainstream Medicine

Nearly one third of people in the United States are using some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), according to new research. Mind-body therapies represented the largest increase in the use of CAM in the last several years. This type of therapy includes methods such as breathing exercises, meditation and yoga. In a recent article, lead author Aditi Nerurkar and MD, Integrative Medicine Fellow, Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), said, “There’s good evidence to support using mind-body therapies clinically. Still, we didn’t expect to see provider referral rates that were quite so high.”

The study compiled data collected that revealed that nearly six and half million Americans were using some form of MBT as a result of being referred by their care provider, after traditional methods of treatment were exhausted. “What we learned suggests that providers are referring their patients for MBT as a last resort once conventional therapeutic options have failed. It makes us wonder whether referring patients for these therapies earlier in the treatment process could lead to less use of the health care system, and possibly, better outcomes for these patients,” said Nerurkar in a related article.

“These data suggest that mind-body therapies have really become a mainstream approach to care,” adds Russell Phillips, MD, Chief of Primary Care at BIDMC and the senior author on the study. “But more research is needed to guide physician and patient decision-making regarding their use.”

Studies at the University of Minnesota have shown that MBT can reduce stress, which can ultimately lead to a host of other psychological and physical issues, such as anxiety, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes and mental health challenges. A recent article describes the benefits of MBT in relation to how our bodies experience the physical sensations of symptoms, including pain. MBT helps a client gain control over symptoms by helping them develop specific tools such as self-awareness and inner strength.

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Charles F

    Charles F

    May 14th, 2011 at 6:10 AM

    This is so encouraging to read news like this. I do have some fears about patients not pursuing this type of care if the insurance companies don’t get on board and consider this a service “worthy” of payment or a covered service. But I think that if they would step back and see the benefit that this can have for their members then they would realize that this would not only be more beneficial for the well being of the members but also more cost effective for the bottom line in the long run.

  • Terry


    May 14th, 2011 at 11:39 PM

    It’s good to know that alternative methods are being adopted and tried by people.It is an indication of the maturing of people with respect to medicines and treatment as well.This needs to be encouraged with more grants and research in the area.

  • cheri


    May 15th, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    What I would like to see is more mind body therapy to not be used as a treatment of last resort. What would be so wrong with trying some of that first?

  • Johnna


    May 16th, 2011 at 4:27 AM

    You have to realize though that you will still have to battle those who think that these kinds of treatments are bizarre and not really what they are looking for. They want to experience what they consider to be be conventional thinking and this does not really fall into that category for them.

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