Healing Circles and the Future of Medicine

submitted by: admin on 09/22/2013

I helped coin the term “Health Medicine” in 1992. Health medicine is a new style of healthcare that blends integrative, holistic, person-centered, and preventive perspectives into health care. Its highest expression is the “Healing Circle,” as we explain in chapters 7 and 8 of A Return to Healing. When you begin to understand Healing Circles, you’ll appreciate that it is possible to blend the wisdom of indigenous healing systems (or traditional medicine) with the wonders of modern biomedical science and technology. You will also see how an advanced clinical practice can combine both of these modalities with a third element: the many forms of bioenergetic medicine that have emerged from the frontier “alternative” research into the mindbody medicine of the last few decades. We do all of this and more at the Health Medicine Center in Walnut Creek, CA, and I am convinced that this clinical model can become the very future of medicine itself.

But there is more: Also crucial to our model is the role of consciousness and spirituality in health. Throughout history, humanity has relied on the role of spirit in healing; this reliance on the power of spirit includes what might be called “inter-subjective consciousness”—that is, the importance of community (including ritual, myths, beliefs, and symbols) in restoring and maintaining health and vitality.

By contrast, today’s health care system has been denuded of nature and of spirit: it relies primarily on synthetic drugs, invasive surgeries, and other intrusive hi-tech approaches to getting people back on their feet and back to work. Modern medicine is mechanistic and symptom-centric, and is based on the notion of an almost desperate war on disease; very little attention is given to our psychospiritual needs or to the concept of coming into harmony with nature and relying upon and supporting the body’s innate healing capacity. We have forgotten that physical disease is the body’s way of expressing psychospiritual dysfunction. We have forgotten that our body is part of a larger, living environment—indeed, a living universe. We have failed to appreciate the power of the “Biology of Belief” that champions the role of our belief system and the environment as the major determinants of our very DNA.

Sadly, health care has in our time become reduced to a corporate turf war where mainstream medicine has won over market-share control from all competing systems of health care. Profit-driven medicine goes so far as to use its ability to control Congress and the FDA in order to suppress alternatives to “cartel medicine.” Worse, medicine and health care have become almost entirely corporatized, leading to a system in which maximizing profit supersedes service. No wonder there’s so little integration of the myriad of clinically tested “alternative” healing systems into a collaborative approach with Western medicine. Nevertheless, a few pioneers remain who combine science and spirituality with a willingness to collaborate with any health care discipline that might support the healing process.

Our own innovation along these lines, Healing Circles, will have many applications in the future. Currently, we use these Circles to bring together health care practitioners of different disciplinary backgrounds with a patient, in a group setting. These practitioners work together as a kind of “Last Chance Garage,” giving input for those people who have tried dozens of individual disciplines yet failed to recover and cannot live functional lives. With a “health guide” in the lead, our teams of practitioners support these people at every level—physically, biochemically, bioenergetically, emotionally, and spiritually—and provide collective support not possible using any single approach. Combinations of treatment strategies never before considered are created, blended, and applied to the specific needs of each unique individual. A few examples of possible disciplines we turn to include:

• Western medicine
• Chinese medicine
• Psychiatry
• Native American medicine
• Naturopathy
• Ayurveda
• Intuition medicine
• Somatic psychotherapy
• Energy medicine

A Healing Circle brings all of the patient’s practitioners to the same table at the same time and with the patient for two hours. While information exchange is important part of the process, it is when we move from information exchange to connection that we find our biggest opportunity for healing. This system works, and is available today in clinical practice!
(See chapters 7 and 8 of A Return To Healing for more information.)




Healing circles are for those who have challenging health issues and are not getting better. A team of practitioners convene at no cost to provide information, listen, care, and support patients.


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