It is with deep sadness that I announce that Jeanne Achterberg died Wednesday afternoon, March 7, 2012, of metastatic breast cancer.
Jeanne Achterberg was a pioneer in mind-body medicine and complementary medicine. Early in her career, Jeannie collaborated with O. Carl Simonton, studying the quality of imagery in cancer patients. She was able to show that features in the imagery predicted the course of the illness. Since that time, she has championed the role of imagery in healing, the role of the mind and spirit in healing, and the shamanic role of the healer.
Jeannie went on to serve in the Office of Alternative Medicine, co-chairing the panel on mind-body interventions. The OAM grew into NCCAM, the home of complementary and alternative medicine within NIH. She is also a past president of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology.
Jeannie has contributed much to mind-body medicine: Her books, Bridges of the Body-Mind, Imagery in Healing, Woman as Healer, Rituals of Healing, Imagery and Disease, and Lightning at the Gate, remain best sellers. Jeannie has also given us a personal example of courage in the face of illness. Her book, Lightning at the Gate, narrated her own journey with illness.
While health reform is a well discussed topic these days, the focus of this discussion has mostly centered on the economic/financial issues surrounding health care. According to Leila Kozak, Saybrook alumni and faculty in the College of Mind-Body Medicine, the mass media has not yet told the story of what is already happening in today’s health care. There is an ongoing movement that is transforming the “culture of care.” People – consumers, health care providers and administrators - are all calling for a new way of doing health care. You can see evidence of this movement all over in clinical settings, medical education, as well as the organizational development realm.
The transformation of the culture of care is largely driven by consumers who are asking for an active role in their health care. A big part of this transformation involves bringing complementary therapy services into conventional western medical settings. Hospitals around the country are paying attention to this call for a new type of health care, what has come to be known as “integrative care.”
Leila has been researching the transformation of the culture of care at the Veteran’s Administration (VA) since 2009. After graduating from Saybrook’s PhD program in February 2007, she applied for a post-doctoral fellowship at Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) in Seattle, WA. HSR&D is the research arm of the Veteran’s Administration, and her’s was the first fellowship focused on the evaluation of Complementary and Integrative Medicine at the VA. It was during the development of her fellowship research project that Leila became aware of the term “transformation of the culture of care” and the process of “culture transformation” at the VA. She saw how her research interest in the integration of CAM as psycho-social-spiritual support into palliative care was one important application of this culture transformation. She also came to appreciate the opportunities that we have - as humanistic psychology/mind-body medicine professionals – in working towards the creation of this emerging paradigm in health care. Leila believes that the pioneer work of Saybrook’s College of Mind-Body Medicine is supporting the building of a new medicine that is bringing together the “high-tech” with the “high-touch."
The International Network of Integrative Mental Health is a global network dedicated to promoting a whole person approach throughout mental health care. Its objectives include:
- Advance a global vision for an integrated whole person approach to mental health care via education, research, networking and advocacy by bringing together the wisdom of world healing traditions and modern science.
- Re-animate the mental health field with energy, spirit, compassion and joy.
- Create community and opportunities for nurturing personal and professional connections. We honor and respect the unique backgrounds and skills that each person brings to this work, and wish to promote meaningful relationships and connection to a global integrative mental health network.
- Promote evidence-based alternative and complementary therapies and the judicious use of modern pharmacologic approaches for the betterment of mental healthcare.
- Contribute to the emerging bio-psycho-socio-spiritual paradigm addressing mind, body, and spirit by promoting effective and safe clinical practices.
- Educate, support and inspire integrative practitioners and trainees, at all levels of their careers and in all world regions. Our philosophy is based upon blending the best practices from traditional and modern healing systems. Our focus is on safety and positive outcomes while honoring our patients’ unique needs, beliefs, wisdom, and advocacy for therapeutic choices and relationships with practitioners that empower them.
- Facilitate collaborative efforts between researchers and clinicians that extend beyond limited conventional understandings of mental healthcare as it pertains to treatment of individuals with psychological or psychiatric disorders, to a broader perspective that includes the range of psychosocial, familial, environmental, cultural and spiritual factors that impact on health, well-being, immune functioning, and physiological integrity.
Each Ph.D. student in Saybrook’s College of Mind-Body Medicine is required to complete a 100 hour practicum at the culmination of the doctoral coursework. Shawn Tassone, a physician and third year Ph.D. student, coordinated a two-week trip to Brazil through Emma Bragdon, the author of Spiritism and Mental Health. Shawn’s plan was to learn about Spiritism, visit Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals, and visit John of God, or “Medium Joao,” which the healer prefers. During the trip Shawn was able to witness how Spiritism is practiced in the mainly medication-free psychiatric hospitals in Brazil, and then sit amongst the hundreds of followers with one of the world’s most renowned healers.
The Spiritist approach to mental health highlights the presence of a spirit, or a Discarnate entity, which attaches to the suffering person. It is thought that spirits attach or connect with the suffering individual, but they can communicate with all living beings. The negative energy can also manifest as an ancestral wound from many years ago. The process of breaking free from a discarnate spirit is called a dis-obsession, and Shawn witnessed this process twice during his visit. A dis-obsession takes place around a conference table, with or without the patient, and includes 8-10 mediums. Each volunteer medium has a different gift. Some are clairvoyant; they “see” beyond the present moment. Others are “clairaudience;” they receive messages from another realm. Others practice “psychography,” the practice of writing what is communicated. During the session the mediums communicate with the spirits, who in turn work through the mediums changing how they influence the suffering person’s life. The intention is to have the spirit dissociate from the living person, so he or she can return to a life free and dis-obsessed.
Marisa Iacobucci has been managing the symptoms of Fibromyalgia (FM) for 16 years. Because of her personal struggles with FM, she was hesitant to facilitate a Mind Body Skills (MBS) group for people with FM. Marisa did not want to hear about the progression of symptoms because she feared she would think to herself, “…is this the next thing I am going to get in the progression of this illness?” Participating in the Professional Training Program and Advanced Training Program from the Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM), a core component in her master’s degree coursework, made an impact on her own FM symptoms, and that realization led her to want to help others with FM.
Marisa researched and experimented with alternative modalities and their effects because she wanted to know personally how these modalities could help her. This experimentation inspired her to share her knowledge with others and help them find new ways to cope with and lessen the symptoms of FM.
Marisa made a commitment to facilitate a Mind-Body Skills group for people with FM for her Master’s Thesis. As a facilitator and group member, Marisa knew that some of her own concerns about FM were sure to surface. The awareness of her own vulnerability, coupled by the fact that she was interested in becoming certified by the CMBM, led Marisa to enter the certification process while completing her thesis. Completing a Master’s Thesis and Certification from the CMBM was a beautiful coupling, because it included weekly supervision phone calls with a senior CMBM staff member. The supervision calls helped her manage her own feelings about FM during the process of leading a group.
College of Mind-BodyMedicine: Dr. Julie Staples Conducts Research on Mind-Body Skills Project in Gaza02/28/2012
Conducting and reporting high quality research is an essential part of the advancement of mind body medicine in health care. Julie Staples has worked as the Research Director at The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) since 1996. The rising credibility of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is due in part to high quality studies being reported in a way that the medical profession recognizes. The medical profession uses the Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) to evaluate the efficacy of most interventions. Reporting results of CAM interventions using recognized research methods improves the validity and credibility of the studies, and opens the lines of communication with colleagues.
Julie and her colleagues at the CMBM have recently received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval to conduct three Randomized Clinical Trials in Gaza. The studies aim to evaluate the efficacy of mind-body skills groups for children, adolescents and adults with posttraumatic stress disorder. Previous research in Gaza studied the effects of mind-body skills groups for approximately 500 adults and 500 children. Among these, about 17% of the adults and 26% of the children had symptoms of PTSD. Using pre- and post- test measurements, the studies demonstrated improvement in PTSD symptoms and depression in both adults and children, as well as decreased hopelessness in children and improved quality of life in adults. The new studies will further advance the data gathered in the pilot studies with a more rigorous study design.
Sure a dog is man's best friend. But what does that mean on a practical level? Does the human and animal (HA) bond be used for the greater good?
Angeline Siegel is so fascinated by this subject matter that she felt compelled to study Mind-Body Medicine at Saybrook, with the intention of relating her degree to both humans and animals. Her master’s project title was “A Veterinarian’s Guide to Mind-Body Medicine: Creating Greater Health and Well-Being in the Human-Animal Bond.”
Angeline worked with holistic veterinarian Michael Bartholomew for a two-week practicum in November, 2010 in South Salem, New York at the Smith Ridge Veterinary Center. That opportunity gave her the time and experience to define the audience she is working with, and to look at how veterinarians can influence the health of the human animal bond. Then for her master’s project, she used Saybrook University faculty member Jeannie Achterberg as her committee chair, and Dr. Bartholomew as a committee member. Dr. Achterberg is widely known for her research and publications on the use of imagery for healing, but also has a long-standing interest in the bond between humans and animals.
Angeline has a private practice called the Zen of Fido, www.zenoffido.com, and specializes in holistic medicine for the human-canine relationship. The following is an example of how she is using mind body medicine at her practice.
Introducing Connie S. Corley, MSW, MA, PH.D.
Connie Corley has engaged in the field of gerontology for 35 years of her professional career. During that time, she has participated in developing the innovative cultural concepts of Positive Aging and Conscious Aging.
The word "gerontology" conjures up an array of thoughts and images about aging, and not all of those images are inspiring. The Positive Aging and Conscious Aging movements seek to give new meaning to the aging process. The Positive Aging movement was inspired by positive psychology. It aims to give purpose to one’s later life through a variety of directions, such as being active in communities and building meaningful relationships.
Conscious Aging, a parallel movement, inspires the aging process with an element of spirituality. The Conscious Aging perspective can benefit persons approaching the end of their lives, and their loved ones as well. Through the discussion of spirituality and aging, Conscious Aging teaches loved ones to be more fully present with their aging family member or friend during some of the difficult times. The deepened relationships that unfold through communication about what it means spiritually to move through life, allow for growth for everyone involved.
People have a full range of experiences as they age. One perspective promoted by Ram Dass is that aging allows us to stop identifying with the ego and the physical body. By letting go of physical constraints, conscious aging allows us to get back to our true essence. Instead of aging limiting us to roles, conscious aging connects us with our souls.
Dr. Shawn Tassone, a PhD student in Mind-Body Medicine at Saybrook, has a great post in Psychology Today on the benefits of meditation ... and how to get there from here.
"I worked on meditation for seven weeks and found the process an evolution similar to the progress through a religious paradigm," he writes. "As I grew up Catholic, I think the comparisons are rich and can help you see that meditation is a process and can be taken as slowly as you desire."
Take a look: The Seven Stages of a Lay Meditator