Armed Services Moving toward Mind-Body Medicine
Well, I’m just back from the Military Health System Conference held at National Harbor, MD, and there seems to be plenty of reason to be encouraged about guided imagery and other mind-body therapies gaining respect, visibility and usage within our Armed Services.
For one thing, holistic health and mind-body therapies are a key element in the new, Patient-Centered Medical Home model which is being implemented in Army clinics nationwide. This model is a gigundo improvement over existing health and mental health services, and, as far as I’m concerned, they can’t implement these enlightened, holistic, one-stop medical care changes fast enough. And let’s hope the rest of the world follows suit.
Cindy and Jerry had a Health Journeys booth there, and the Playaway people were a presence there as well. They happily reported they had multiple visits from various TriCare folks, along with a lot of serious interest from health providers in all branches of the service. Now, if TriCare decides they like guided imagery (and given the cost savings to insurers and HMO’s demonstrated by the Schwab et al Blue Shield of California Study, it’s surely in their enlightened self-interest to do so), a lot of troops, vets and families will be getting guided imagery.
There’s also great interest in mind-body methods for treating PTS (posttraumatic stress) and TBI (traumatic brain injury) over at DCoE, (Defense Centers of Excellence), the umbrella organization that includes both the Dept of Defense and the Veterans Administration, tasked with finding new, effective ways to deal with the multiple psychological and neuro-physiological challenges our troops face.
Just last week I learned that DICoE is about to include guided imagery as a “promising practice” in a review paper that’s ready to launch next week, titled "Promising Integrative Practices for Regulating Stress, Emotions, and Arousal". This document will feature a dozen integrative health practices, ranging from manipulative body-based and touch techniques, to yoga breath routines, to mindfulness and meditation based practices. So, how do you like them apples?
And we’re getting tremendously helpful feedback from a small group of smart, combat-experienced, thoughtful, noncom officers at Fort Sill, OK. They’re educating us on the best way to introduce guided imagery to troops. What they’ve had to say has been a priceless course in what you could call ‘Enlightenment for Civilians’. They even had some awesome ideas about the packaging - we weren’t even asking about the packaging! It’s a wonderful thing to get direction from people who actually know what they’re talking about.
I could go on and on. To this point, I’ve recently been asked to speak at a few military conferences and will even be going over to Germany in May, for a bi-annual Medical, Surgical & Behavioral Health Conference that brings together docs, nurses, techs, social workers and other mental health professionals working in our military treatment facilities in Germany, Italy and Belgium.
Again, the reason they’re interested in having somebody like me speak is because, in the words of the people who sent the invitation, “An important [goal] is to incorporate behavioral health with primary care. In addition, the model embraces holism….”. Starting to sound familiar? I take it you get the picture: our military health providers are being directed to get with the program, use integrative care, pay more attention to the whole patient and get cracking with the mind-body therapies. Nice. Our troops and vets will benefit.
I could say more but this is plenty. I’ll be reporting on other exciting developments and I’ll keep tracking these and reporting back to you. Needless to say, I’m pumped.
Take care and be well,