Tracking the inclusion of integrative strategies inside the Veteran’s Administration (VA) is an exception to the saying that a watched pot never boils. Integrative health research inside the VA funded in 2016 was the basis by which VA leaders chose 3 years later to more than triple the implementation of the “whole health” model to 55 medical centers. It was cause to exult. Now a special issue of the American Public Health Association journal Medical Care documents a further percolating of the inclusion process. With The Implementation of Complementary and Integrative Health Therapies in the Veterans Health Administration, one witnesses the powerful potential for change when a will is linked to a plan and a budget. The success at the VA casts cold light on the relative failure of reduction-oriented and production-minded public and private agencies to guide optimal implementation of integrative practices and practitioners into the delivery institutions on which the vast majority of U.S. citizens rely for their care.
Many years ago, an integrative colleague and adviser – my spouse! – explained something to me about an important part of her lengthy integrative intake process. The time is needed to build trust to have the patient divulge what is going on at the time a chronic condition set its hooks so that the freeing might commence. The past half-century was witnessed a slow, cultural recognition of the power of trauma in micro and macro ways. The “shell-shocked” of WWI became, post Vietnam, a potentially actionable PTSD. The women’s movement opened the lid on pervasive sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and rape. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) emerged as powerful determinants of life chances and choices. George Floyd’s murder ripped open reckoning on police battery, slavery, Jim Crow, red-lining, and mass incarceration.
If you ask Deepak Chopra about the purpose of the Chopra Library, he will turn quickly speak to the challenges at Wikipedia for topics like integrative medicine and well-being. “Our original intention,” Chopra recalls, “was to counter the agenda at Wikipedia that all this is not scientific.” The mission to provide quality, reliable evidence on integrative and consciousness science was supercharged this past year when word came out that Chopra’s library would become a department at the new Whole Health Institute (WHI). WHI and the library are each backed by philanthropist Alice Walton whose father Sam, the Walmart founder, recalls Chopra, “first came to see me 30 years ago.” I got in touch with Chopra, and the library’s executive director Ryan Castle – a former Wikipedia editor – to learn more about what the field might expect from this other part of the WHI entity.
At the time of the murder of George Floyd, members of his immediate family expressed amazement at the influence of his life through the manner of his death. They would not likely have guessed then that the social combustion over systemic racism and related colonial suppression would a month later prompt a community-wide consensus to remove a term that has been central to defining a core field in the integrative health and medicine space. An intense, open, and well-managed exchange has commenced among leaders of the profession of acupuncture and medicine from Eastern Asia to remove from their label a term of a racist and colonial origin: “Oriental.” Executives of the field’s accredited colleges are the core participants in the exchange, and the input has grown from there. Significant agreement exists to remove the term. Replacement may prove more problematic.