Mind-Body Pioneer Marty Rossman, MD, Reflects on the Heart of Integrative Practice

Guest Column: Mind-Body Pioneer Marty Rossman, MD, Welcomes 2008 Reflecting on the Heart of Integrative Practice



Summary
: Just as the corner of the covers was lifted off 2008 in January, mind-body medicine and guided imagery pioneer Marty Rossman, MD, sent the Integrator “a little rant.” Rossman’s statement of his credo from 40 years of holistic practice came as a response to an Integrator comment forum on the failure of business models for integrative clinics. Rossman’s perspective is
a good companion piece to the hopeful column by trends expert Gerald Celeste: Rossman describes what needs to be the center of a practitioner’s commitment if he or she wishes to abet the arrival of the “Heal Yourself Health Care” Celeste sees coming.

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Martyin Rossman, MD

I learned of the work of Martin Rossman, MD nearly 25 years ago through Peggy Smith, ND, LAc, then a colleague at what is now Bastyr University but was, in 1984, a single purpose naturopathic school with a budget that had just hit $1-million. Smith was traveling regularly from Seattle to Rossman’s Bay Area base to gain certification from the Academy for Guided Imagery which Rossman co-founded. “Guided imagery” seemed even more obscure than Bastyr’s specialty at that time. Rossman, a medical acupuncturist and holistic physician, was Smith’s teacher. He has educated and certified hundreds of practitioners since. Through his Healing Mind organization,he’s directly serving the body-mind health of thousands of individuals.

Earlier this month, Rossman sent me an e-message in response to an Integrator commentator, Mary Lawlor, CPM. Lawlor had been part of a discussion published December 11 based on an article on the failure of Wellspace (“Wellspace/SickSpace: Reflections on a Pioneering Integrative Clinic Gone Down for the Count,” November 27, 2007). Lawlor’s comments stimulated Rossman to reflect on his credo about optimal integrative practice. Thus commenced the “rant.”

Rossman’s comments share a perspective which dovetails beautifully with the “heal yourself health care” which trends expert Gerald Celeste forecasts is on the horizon. (See “2008 Good News: Trends Maven Celeste Highlights “Heal Yourself Health Care,” January 12, 2008.) Rossman concluded his note to me with a post-script: “Many people have said these things better and I
don’t care if you

publish this, it just feels good to get a rant off my
chest now and

then. Happy New Year to you, and may we see more growth
in better

health care this year and beyond!”
Thanks, Marty. This is a good message for invoking better healing practices as the new year begins.






On What Differentiates Real, Human, Integrative Health Care

Martin Rossman, MD
Founder, The Healing Mind

Co-Founder, Academy for Guided Imagery



“I wanted to
thank Mary Lawlor for her clear perspective on what
differentiates real, human, integrative healthcare from a
so-called
‘healthcare industry’ that attempts to adopt economic and
treatment
models more suitable to fast-food chains. As a medical
doctor who has
attempted to practice holistic (now ‘integrative’) medicine for nearly 40 years, I have come to believe a few simple-minded
things about our

approach to medicine and health care:

“A truly integrative approach

optimizes and
amplifies the

healing effects of belief and
expectation
through the

medium

of the practitioner-patient
relationship.”

– Martin Rossman, MD


“While I
believe that many modalities used in integrative medicine

have effects of their own, a truly integrative approach
optimizes and

amplifies the healing effects of belief and expectation
through the

medium of the practitioner-patient relationship. A
therapeutic

relationship that engenders mutual caring and confidence
allows for
not only enhanced healing effects but for the transfer of
knowledge,

and trust in our innate potential for healing.



“This optimization of the placebo effect (better
thought of as the
‘healing effect’ as the good Dr. Weil has
suggested) is largely
dependent on the interacting belief systems of practitioner
and

patient, which is held, molded and supported by the
nature of their

relationship on both human and archetypal levels. The
understanding of,
and skillful utilization of, this relationship and its
effects is the
art of the practitioner, which adds to the effect of whatever

material science or therapeutics they can bring to bear
on the situation.


“While natural
health care practitioners vary as widely in their
ability to relate to patients as do MDs, I would suspect
that if they
were studied we would find that there is a general
tendency for

holistically-oriented practitioners to be more
people-oriented than
disease, condition, or modality oriented. Holistically-oriented people

are more likely to be generalists rather than
specialists, and thus
more likely to be interested in spending time with
patients, listening
to them, and supporting a meaning-based and caring
approach to

medicine, all of which tends to support healing. Of
course, there are
many exceptions, but in general, therapeutic relationship
is nurtured

by focused yet unhurried attention, listening, and
communication in

language that is understood and accepted by the patient.



“Needless to
say, none of this fits into the economic dream of setting

up health clinics with a menu of therapeutic choices
prescribed
according to standardized protocols with
interchangeable
practitioners. This model is based on the same fallacy
that has
generated the dominant medical model — the belief that
disease and

cure both come from external forces and the patient is a
passive

recipient of the expertise and ministrations of an expert
in medicine,

supplements, herbs, homeopathy, acupuncture or whatever
modality they choose. I think it’s becoming clear that this model does
not seem to

work, with either conventional or CAM [complementary and alternative medicine] modalities.


“The bigger picture, as we
know, is
that 80% or more

of all afflictions get better
by themselves, and 80% or

more of what
remains would

get better if people changed
their ways of
eating,

moving,
and managing stress and
emotions.”

– Rossman

“Some people do
indeed have bad illnesses and injuries visited upon
them for reasons we do not comprehend or control, and
conventional

medicine does have some remarkable life-saving
capabilities in certain
circumstances. But the bigger picture, as we know, is
that 80% or more
of all afflictions get better by themselves, and 80% or
more of what

remains would get better if people changed their ways of
eating,
moving, and managing stress and emotions. Above and
beyond the

specific effectiveness of acupuncture, homeopathy,
nutrition, and

other CAM modalities, perhaps the greatest two values
that integrative

practitioners bring to the healthcare table are these —
they (in

general) do no harm (as opposed to being the third or
fourth leading

cause of death in America as is conventional medical
care), and they support people to learn more about their innate healing
abilities and

in developing lifestyles that support those abilities.



“This is in no
way meant to demean my respect for fish oils, herbs,
acupuncture, bodywork or the people who use them
(including me) but to

underscore the very real possibility that health cannot
be created or
sold like caramel macchiatos or In N’ Out Burgers. It’s
too bad, in a
way – it would be so much easier!”




Marty (Rossman, MD)
http://www.thehealingmind.org

Comment: If Rossman’s thesis is correct
– and I share his bias – I wonder if professional training programs and
educational conferences in integrative practice respect this
sufficiently.


“Then there is the separate but
practically important
challenge

of guiding an image, in the way

one might guide a natural
product

manufacturer, to financially
sponsor a CME event.”

This continuously shifting, individualized pathway to service is much harder not only to practice but also to teach. A classroom style suits lectures on the biochemistry of botanicals and the alternative pathways of nutrients. But if Rossman’s credo is correct, if we want to maximize the power of connectivity, we must more frequently explore non-traditional teaching postures and forms. Do we respect this sufficiently in our training programs? Without examining and potentially changing our teaching methods, we may not do justice to the subject matter or to the essence of what we purport to believe. In short, our teaching methods may not be sufficiently radical to realize the very radical nature of our message.

(Then of course, there is the separate but practically important challenge of guiding an image, in the way one might guide a natural product manufacturer, to financially sponsor a CME event. But this is the subject of a separate Integrator discussion.)

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John Weeks Written by John Weeks

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