It has been said "Knowledge is Power." Certainly, when it comes to healing and living from one's true core or essence, knowledge of one's self and knowledge of potential healing practices is power-filled. You have probably heard about various alternative or complementary medicine techniques but were unsure how they might apply to your unique situation. You may have some idea of mind-body healing or even energy work but you may not have any clue how to apply those tools to your life. Just because there is a treatment available doesn't mean it's right for you. Integrative Wisdom is here to guide and assist you in exploring the vast world of Integrative Medicine and other healing practices. This is not an exhaustive description, but it's a start. Contact me with your questions. I am here to guide you through this amazing, but sometimes complicated, discipline.

A Brief History of Integrative Medicine

The Medical Model

The Medical Model or Western medicine takes the position that the body is similar to a machine and that the various parts of the body are separate entities to be fixed when they are broken. This belief arose with the ideas of Descartes in the 1800s. With the rise of the American Medical Association in 1847, any type of medicine that did not fit into this mold was considered suspect and quackery.

Flexner's report in 1910 titled, Medical Education in the United States and Canada led to the demise of those treatments that did not fit into this reductionist model. Schools of Homeopathy, Osteopathy, and Chiropractic were all but forced out of business. Flexner's report set the stage for the standards of education that were put in place, as well as creating standards of care for those studying to become doctors. However, the rigid nature of the report later became a point of contention even for Flexner with the realization that doctors were being taught techniques to treat the body but were forgetting the doctor-patient relationship.

When considering Western medicine, it is important to understand three basic tenants of the model. First, it is believed that the world is measurable and only that which can be seen exists. Second, the world is able to be objectified and is, therefore, unaffected by the person observing events and people. Third, the world is able to be reduced down to explanations of events and behavior in terms of both the characteristics and interactions of component parts. This is in direct contrast with alternative medicine which considers human experience as a critical component in scientific discussion--thoughts, feelings, and intentions that interact with a vital energy that exists in the universe and lead to healing--and is not yet measurable.

The medical model therefore reduces down what many consider a complex interaction of factors that may or may not result in disease or illness, with the goal becoming the treatment of illness. Disease is seen as separate from the individual, with no connection with the human being in whom the symptoms are expressed.

Another component of this model assigns the doctor or therapist as the "expert" or "authority" with the patient as the "passive" recipient of a prescribed treatment. Although the patient may refuse treatment, this usually means searching for another doctor to provide another suggestion. Very rarely is the family consulted when dispensing medical care and the community is not considered important at all to a patient's healing process.

Scientific proof and the Medical Model

It is important to understand that scientific research focuses on illness and disease and very little is invested in researching wellness or promotion of health. Secondly, just as the medical model is the recognized system of health care in this country, scientific research is the recognized method of proving the worth of this system. What actually constitutes "scientific" in medicine, however, has fluctuated over time. In the 1990s, scientific came to mean "evidenced-based" with proof found in therapies that have been shown to improve well-defined patient outcomes by well-designed, appropriately powered, randomized, controlled clinical trials… A mouthful, I know.

Interestingly, many of the health care treatments in this country were developed before the 1960s and do not meet the above criteria. For example, the drugs warfarin, heparin, and aspirin that are used in the treatment of cardiovascular disease do not meet current standards of clinical proof. In his editorial published by the Archives of Internal Medicine November 9, 1998, Dalen describes surgical treatments such as coronary artery bypass grafts, which were performed on hundreds of thousands of patients prior to the randomized clinical trials that actually demonstrated efficacy. In addition to Dalen's claims, other researchers such as Collinge and Swackhamer assert that perhaps as much as 80 to 85% of today's accepted medical interventions are not supported by solid scientific evidence.

However, the standard of scientific proof continues to be the determining factor in establishing a treatment in the mainstream. According to Dalen, it is possible that because the interventions mentioned above were introduced by mainstream Western medical scientists, they are not questioned by the majority of those who are invested in this system of health care. As Marilyn Schlitz, the Director of Research at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, explains, "the idea of objectivity is a myth". The questions asked by the researcher are always coming from a perspective, a world view that colors and possibly distorts the complete picture. Although the scientific model has been promoted as bias-free, it becomes clear that this is not possible, in spite of all efforts to make it so.

The Alternative Model

Alternative medicine comprises a system of health care:

  1. That is characterized by a developed body of intellectual work that underlies the conceptualization of health and its precepts;
  2. That has been sustained over many generations by many practitioners in many communities;
  3. That represents an orderly, rational, conscious system of knowledge and thought about health and medicine;
  4. That relates more broadly to a way of life (or "lifestyle") and
  5. That has been widely observed to have definable results as practiced.

Although considered a newcomer to the health care field, alternative medicine, in a large part, is based on Eastern traditions of wellness as well as various folk beliefs and practices handed down from generation to generation. As Micozzi states, "I have likened the recent "discovery" of alternative medicine to Columbus' discovery of the Americas. Although his voyage was a great feat that expanded the intellectual frontiers of Europe, Columbus could not really discover a world already known to millions of indigenous peoples who employed complex systems of social organization and subsistence activities. Likewise, the definitional statement that alternatives are not ‘within the existing U.S. health care system' is a curious observation for the millions of Americans who routinely use them today."

Alternative medicine provides a framework that focuses more on wellness and harmony or balance within the individual as well as within the context of the larger community. Physical illness is not the focus of this model. Rather, it is believed that the physical, spiritual, and mental spheres are so intertwined they cannot be separated. The emphasis is on the whole person as a unique individual with his or her own inner resources. There is a focus on an individual's ability to choose a type of treatment that feels right, giving that person the sense of being in charge of the health process. Examples of what is considered Alternative Medicine are acupuncture, aromatherapy, and Reiki or energy medicine.

From Alternative to Complementary to Integrative

An Integrative Model of Health Care

As more and more research reveals the millions of people who are currently turning to alternative health care, mainstream medical providers are beginning to notice. Although an earlier study found doctors unaware of the widespread use of alternative treatments, the 1998 Eisenberg, et al. study was noticed by a vast number of physicians and care givers. This is in part due to the reputation of the publishing journal, JAMA but is also due to the media attention the article received.

It is very clear at this point in our history that contemporary health care is suffering a crisis. Rising health care costs, the depersonalizing nature of managed care, as well as the rise of iatrogenic diseases (disease or illness caused from medical treatment) has led to increased dissatisfaction in the system. Furthermore, it is well documented that consumers are using both the medical model and alternative treatments.

It is also very clear that the future model of health care would be wise to rely upon integrated, inclusive, multidisciplinary types of practice that combine natural therapies with the best of what conventional medicine has done. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends that both orthodox and alternative medicine work together in order to improve the health of humankind and the quality of life.

An integrative model of health care is person-centered rather than disease-centered. In addition, this model focuses on health promotion, individual personal growth, the development of personal resources, and self-care. Andrew Weil, the Director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Medical School, suggests that in an integrative model of health care, patients "learn and practice the principles of healthy living and are partners with their health professionals rather than dependent upon them".

Another component of an integrative model of health care emphasizes healing aspects of mind, body, and spirit within the context of the human relationship. This inclusion of spirituality reintroduces matters of the soul which have been ignored by Western medicine for over four hundred years. Integrative Medicine has a strong emphasis on spirituality. It is believed there is some connection to an unseen power that can be used to promote wellness. The power of the individual to heal is considered paramount in this model. The right, as well as the responsibility to participate in the course of treatment, is intrinsic to the model.

Here's a description from Dr. Andrew Weil, the founder, professor, and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona:

Integrative medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative.

The principles of integrative medicine:

  • A partnership between patient and practitioner in the healing process
  • Appropriate use of conventional and alternative methods to facilitate the body's innate healing response
  • Consideration of all factors that influence health, wellness and disease, including mind, spirit and community as well as body
  • A philosophy that neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically
  • Recognition that good medicine should be based in good science, be inquiry driven, and be open to new paradigms
  • Use of natural, effective, less-invasive interventions whenever possible
  • Use of the broader concepts of promotion of health and the prevention of illness as well as the treatment of disease
  • Training of practitioners to be models of health and healing, committed to the process of self-exploration and self-development

For more information, click here to visit Dr. Weil's website.

Other important definitions to consider:


One who, regardless of the professional designation, facilitates another persons' growth toward wholeness (body-mind-spirit) or who assists with recovery from illness or transition to peaceful death.


The process of bringing parts of oneself (physical, mental, emotions, spirit, relationships, and choices) together at deep levels of inner knowing, leading to an integration and balance, with each part having equal importance and value.


To stop or reverse a disease or illness through therapeutic medical means.


An awareness of a transcendent intelligence or process which in turn, inspires and directs behavior. This concept leads to an awareness of a broader life meaning beyond the concerns of everyday life.


An institutionalized body of believers with a specific set of beliefs and practices. One may be religious without focusing on the spiritual and many who consider themselves spiritual do not follow religious tenants.

It is important in Integrative Wisdom practices to understand that one can be healed and not cured, cured and not healed. It is also important to understand the difference between religion and spirituality. Knowing where your beliefs lie, which ones are still appropriate for your life and which ones no longer serve you, is extremely important to as you move into a state of wellness and wholeness.

Healing Tools

Integrative Wisdom provides a vast treasure chest of tools or modalities that will serve to provide a sense of wellness, peace, healing, and integration in your life. All of the tools used in Integrative Wisdom have a history and a story of effectiveness behind them. Some have the gold standard of the medical model behind them, such as meditation while others have the approval of thousands of practitioners worldwide but little oversight by the establishment, for example color healing. You will determine which of these appeals to you and which ones will give you what is needed for your particular situation or issue at this moment in time. Please check out your choices of Healing Tools and Modalities listed here on this page.

The Enneagram

In today's world, we are bombarded on all sides by an overwhelming amount of information regarding our health and well-being. We are offered such an array of choices when it comes to taking care of our physical health, our mental and emotional health, and to a lesser degree, our spiritual health, that we can find ourselves running in all directions trying as many as we can. What is missing in this information glut is the key or the formula to deciding what treatments are right for our particular situation. What is missing is a way to help us imagine which tools or techniques we might actually succeed at.

Not all the possibilities out there are going to be a good fit for you. Much depends on your own unique personality and world view. Unless you are aware you have a unique world view, you may think you should succeed at all the practices you try. Once you learn more about your own personal growth and development needs and learn more about why you see the world differently from others, you can then consciously and confidently design your healing practice.

The Enneagram's wisdom lies in helping us understand what motivates us to do what we do. Or what we don't want to do. Please consider clicking on the link to take the free Enneagram test. Then come back here to Integrative Wisdom and email me with your results and your questions. From there, you and I will work together to design your own unique healing practice that fits you better than any generic plan.

Take the free test here.

Home Parties

One very effective way to learn more about Integrative Wisdom is to book a home party. Invite several of your closest friends to come together for a few hours to learn how to best choose the healing practices that will be beneficial for each of you. The idea of home parties has been with me for a decade or more. I have held small gatherings at my home over the years with various topics of interest. But my goal has been to take the vast knowledge and experiences I have of integrative practices to women in their own environment. Together, on your home territory, we create the energy to allow for first hand healing experiences.

You determine the basics…who will attend, what you want to learn about, and how long the event will last. I bring the knowledge and the tools necessary for you to learn and experience the benefits. Because the effects are in your own home, there is no “let down” or energy drain as sometimes happens after attending a large conference or seminar.

You won't receive the individual focus on your unique personality and life factors of course, but you will begin to experience the effects of Integrative Medicine practices and you will notice the benefits. After getting a taste of Integrative Wisdom in a group setting, you may then decide that designing an individual Integrative Wisdom Wellness Plan™ is the right next step for you. Check out some of the topics. Then contact me for the details and to make a date for your Integrative Wisdom home party.

Topics for Home Parties

  • Affirmations
  • Aromatherapy
  • Being Fully Present
  • Carolyn Myss and Energy Healing
  • Chakra Centers
  • Color
  • Creative Expression
  • Education on any of the Healing Tools and Modalities
  • Energy Work
  • Guided Imagery
  • Healing Touch
  • Healing vs. Curing
  • Holding Space
  • Improving Listening Skills
  • Intuitive Guidance
  • Listening Skills
  • Mantras
  • MindBody Connection
  • Movement
  • Relationship basics
  • Relaxation Techniques
  • Sacred Space
  • Say what you mean
  • Setting Goals
  • Slowing Down
  • Soul Work
  • Sound Healing
  • Spirituality vs. Religion
  • Stress Reduction
  • Symbolic Insight
  • Symbolism and Dreams
  • The connection of body, mind, and spirit
  • The Four Agreements
  • The Labyrinth
  • The Unspoken Prayer

Healing Tools and Modalities

MindBody Tools

  • Attitude Adjustment
  • Breath work and Breathing Practice
  • Deepening
  • Envisioning
  • Expanding
  • Focusing
  • Gratitude Practice
  • Guided Imagery
  • Imagining
  • Journaling
  • Laughter Healing
  • Letting Go
  • Listening with your Heart
  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Relaxation
  • Silence
  • Visualization

Energy Work

  • Centering
  • Chakra focus
  • Grounding
  • Letting Go
  • Movement
  • Reiki

Intuitive/Creative Expressions

  • Affirmations
  • Animal Medicine Cards
  • Birthday Drawing (A. Arrien)
  • Collage Work
  • Mandala Work
  • Mantras
  • Mudras
  • Multimedia Creative Arts
  • Runes
  • Shapes Test
  • Story Telling
  • Symbolic Insight
  • Tarot Cards

Senses Modalities

  • Aromatherapy
  • Bach Flower Remedies
  • Chanting
  • Color Therapy
  • Essential Oils
  • Sound Healing


  • Creating Ceremony
  • Creating Sacred Space
  • Walk About
  • Walking the Labyrinth

About the Artist: Paul Heussenstamm

The year was 1997 and I was half way through my Master's program in Social Work. While making my way through school and raising a family, I was also working at the Post Office. One day while sorting letters, I came across a very interesting flier. Given that I had just started hearing about this strange healing modality, I was pleasantly surprised to be holding an invitation to join a weekend seminar to learn how to draw one's soul mandala.

Taking a moment to copy down the phone number, I determined I was going to call this man, Paul, and ask him about his weekend class. I almost backed out of making the call as I began to listen to this little voice inside telling me that I could not attend this class as I was certainly not creative. It would be too scary and way too far out of my comfort zone. Then my soul gave me a good talking to.

Basically the talk went something like this…"Are you kidding me? Really? After asking for information on this exact topic and I give it to you, you're going to ignore the answer to your prayer???? Seriously????" Getting such a clear message moved me to act. I called the number and Paul answered. Wow! What a great guy. He listened to my fears and calmed them all. By the end of the call I was signed up to attend his class.

My class with Paul on creating my soul mandala became a high point on my journey to big life changes. The fears of leaving behind my secure government job began to subside. I experienced the process of allowing my soul to lead me rather than live from my ego or my mind. My finished mandala will never earn any awards on the art circuit but it hangs as the center focal point in The Center of Creative Transformation.

I am grateful to Paul for being that support for me way back when and I thank him now for allowing Integrative Wisdom to use mandalas from his vast collection in our website design. Find Paul at http://www.mandalas.com.

Book your
Integrative Wisdom wellness plan

Using a vast array of tools such as the relaxation response, creative arts, breathing practices, etc. each individual is guided to create their own unique Integrative Wisdom Wellness Plan™.


For reasons not yet identified, people continually defy medical odds. Placebos confound the most rigorous of experiments. Personal beliefs and emotional resilience or lack thereof, influence the time it takes to heal. Emotional distress, environmental frustrations, and other non-physical issues threaten the physical wellness of patients.