The International Certification Board of Clinical Hypnotherapy is a worldwide hypnosis association organization that provides education to the public and professionals via live training classes and homestudy courses about the benefits of clinical hypnosis, and recognizes hypnosis certification programs and hypnotherapy certification courses.

Conclusions about Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

What is Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)?

The National Science Foundation stated that defining Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) poses challenges because of its constantly evolving nature and multiplicity of types.  However, the American Psychological Association (APA, 2007) defined CAM as “a group of therapies and health care systems that fall outside the realms of conventional western medical practice.  These include but are not limited to Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Meditation, Aromatherapy, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Osteopathy, Touch therapy, Reflexology, Reiki and the use of certain dietary supplements” (p. 205).

CAM is widely used throughout the world and often involves approaches to achieving health that differ from biomedical approaches (Nguyen, Davis, Kaptchuk, & Phillips, 2010). 

Physicians consider the traditional biomedical model, which emphasizes the causes, effects, and nature of diseases from a biological point of view, the gold standard for the treatment of diseases (King, 2010; Wong et al., 2009).  However, the biomedical model of health does not incorporate the impact of social factors and individual choices in the pathology, physiology, or treatment of diseases (Taylor, 2012).

What Model of Health Does CAM Use?

In contrast to the biomedical model, CAM typically incorporates the bio-psychosocial model (Zachariae, 2009).  The bio-psychosocial model recognizes biological, psychological, and social factors as important factors in the etiology of health and illness (Taylor, 2012). 

Is CAM Pseudoscience? 

Although some practices of CAM might be questionable due to the different standards required to practice, all CAM cannot be classified as pseudoscience.  Some varieties of CAM have been successfully utilized to treat certain medical problems (Segerstrom, 2010).  For example, the effectiveness of hypnosis and imagery and relaxation in treating allergic reactions has been documented (Freeman, 2009).  Moreover, CAM interventions help to support immune functions by reducing the impact of stress (Campbell & Edwards, 2009).  Although the effectiveness of CAM cannot always be verified through the use of experimental methods such as randomized clinical trials, some types of CAM have been very successful in achieving health and wellness. 


American Psychological Association. (2007). APA dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: Author.

Campbell, C. M., & Edwards, R. R. (2009). Mind-body interactions in pain: The neurophysiology of anxious and catastrophic pain-related thoughts. Translational Research, 153, 97-101. doi:10.1016/j.trsl.2008.12.002

Freeman, L. W. (2009). Mosby’s complementary & alternative medicine: A research-based approach (3rd ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

King, L. A. (2010). Experience psychology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Nguyen, L. T., Davis, R. B., Kaptchuk, T. J., & Phillips, R. S. (2010). Use of complementary and alternative medicine and self-rated health status: Results from a national survey. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 26(4), 399-404.

Segerstrom, S. C. (2010). Resources, stress, and immunity: A ecological perspective on human psychoneuroimmunology. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 40, 114-125. doi:10.1007/s12160-010-9195-3

Taylor, S. E. (2012). Health psychology (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Wong, E. L., Sung, R. Y., Leung, T. F., Wong, Y. L. Cheung, K. L., Wong, C. K., . . . Leung, P. C. (2009). Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of herbal therapy for children with asthma. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(10), 1091-1098.

Zachariae, R. (2009). Psychoneuroimmunology: A bio-psycho-social approach to health and disease. Journal of Psychology, 40, 645-651. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9450

Why is Cultural Competence Important in CAM Healthcare?

Culturally competent care is important in all types of healthcare systems, especially in CAM.  Many practitioners are pursuing best health outcomes using CAM; therefore, CAM providers must ensure that they provide quality, culturally competent care.  This ensures that caretakers (a) become aware of how patients’ cultures view treating illnesses, (b) know how receptive the culture is regarding gender of care givers, and (3) know how the culture views the use of CAM (Freeman, 2009).

In addition to providing high quality care CAM providers can help reduce disparities in health as several ethnic disparities influence healthcare services.  In the CDC report (Akinbami, Moorman, & Liu, 2011) ethnic disparities were seen during the 2009-2010 vaccination period for influenza; African Americans and Hispanics were less likely to have received vaccination.  Between 2007 and 2009 African Americans were more likely than any other minority ethnic group to be living in inadequate or unhealthy housing, followed by Hispanics and Native Americans (Akinbami et al., 2011).  Ethnic minority groups were also more likely to live in areas with unhealthy air.  Another factor that affects ethno-cultural issues in health is participation in the healthcare system (Myers & Hwang, 2008).  The CDC report (Akinbami et al., 2011) revealed that Hispanics and African Americans are the least likely to have healthcare insurance.  Additionally, Caucasians were more likely to obtain colorectal cancer screening than any other ethnic group. 

These significant findings suggest socioeconomic status affects the ability to afford healthcare insurance.   Ethnic minority groups are more likely to be obese and might be less likely to have all the facts related to the importance of treatment compliance (Akinbami et al., 2011).  Moreover, believing myths related to CAM can result in compromised health.  For example, if it is culturally acceptable to use unsafe treatments to lose weight patients’ lives can be put in danger. 

CAM providers demonstrate cultural competence when they actively seek to increase healthcare accessibility and affordability to meet the cultural needs of diverse populations (Freeman, 2009).  The CAM provider is in a position to act professionally by communicating with stakeholders and other healthcare providers and conducting research into meeting these needs. 

It is, therefore, extremely important that the CAM health care provider thoroughly evaluate each client and become aware of patients’ cultural beliefs about health and illness so that patients can be given appropriate information that is accurate and beneficial to their health.  

What is Meant by the Phrase: Cultural Competence is a Life-long Journey?

It is critical for everyone to be culturally sensitive and culturally educated.  Everyone should have the right to access culturally competent care.  Cultural diversity is not static; different cultures evolve on a regular basis.  Caregivers must, therefore, dedicate themselves to lifelong learning about different beliefs, values, customs, behaviors, and practices. 

Healthcare providers must be aware of cultural changes and be particularly sensitive to changes occurring in the populations they serve (Freeman, 2009).  Continuing education for healthcare providers should include courses in the current trends in multicultural perspectives and diversity issues.  The knowledge gained through this lifelong adventure enables healthcare providers to better serve a diverse and dynamic population and increase the credibility of their profession.


Akinbami, L. J., Moorman, J. E., & Liu, X. (2011). Asthma prevalence, health care use, and mortality: United States, 2005–2009 (National Health Statistics Report No. 32). Hyattsville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics.

Freeman, L. W. (2009). Mosby’s complementary & alternative medicine: A research-based approach (3rd ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

Myers, H. F., & Hwang, W. (2008). Ethnocultural issues in behavioral medicine. In L. M. Cohen, D. E. McChargue, & F. G. Collins (Eds.), The health psychology handbook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Retrieved from



Ethnomedicine and Cultural Competence Care

What is Culturally Competent Care?

Today’s society is highly diverse culturally and different cultures experience unique challenges and have different needs.  A basic need common to all cultures is good health and it is commonly known that many factors influence health.  According to the National Standards on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS), ethno-cultural issues significantly influence the type or quality of healthcare some individuals or ethnic minority groups receive, critically affecting health outcomes (Office of Minority Standards, 2007).  Evidence suggests that these individuals or groups do not receive care that is tailored to their cultural differences.  Some cultural issues that affect minorities include biological predispositions, poor behavior/health practices, and limited access to health care (Myers & Hwang, 2008).  Myers and Hwang (2008) noted that ethnic minorities suffer from more health-related illnesses related to lack of appropriate health care, and have poorer prognoses and treatment outcomes than the majority group.

Certain factors that contribute to the inferior health of some ethnic minority groups cannot be eradicated.  A major factor is biological predisposition, which comprises the health status of affected ethnic minority groups (Myers & Hwang, 2008). 

Some people are more prone to developing certain illnesses and diseases because of their genetic makeup.  For example, African Americans develop hypertension more often than other ethnic groups and have poorer prognoses (Myers & Hwang, 2008).  In “The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Health Statistics Report”  (2008) it was revealed that African Americans die from heart disease or stroke at higher rates than other ethno-cultural groups and experience infant mortality rates 2.4 times higher than Caucasians.

Obesity was found to be higher in African Americans and Mexican Americans than Caucasians (CDC, 2008).  All ethnic minority groups except Asians continue to see an increase in the incidence of obesity; however, the rate of change in African American obesity is higher than in other ethno-cultural groups.  Moreover, in 2007 more pre-term births took place among African Americans than any other ethno-cultural group. 

With regard to cigarette smoking, American Indians and Alaska Natives were much more likely to be smokers than members of other ethno-cultural groups (CDC, 2008). 

Although genetic predispositions to unfavorable health outcomes cannot be removed, healthcare workers can provide altered care to increase the benefits or prognoses in ethnic minority groups with health conditions.  Members of these ethnic minority groups require care that is culturally competent, and healthcare workers must ensure that they bring together diverse and culture-specific mindfulness, knowledge, and expertise accordingly (Corey, Corey, & Callanan, 2010).  Healthcare providers must appreciate and be aware of the customs, standards, and principles that characterize specific racial, ethnic, or cultural groups and must modify their behavior as necessary (VandenBos, 2007).  In addition, they must evaluate others’ viewpoints and do everything possible to try to understand the behavior of others in order to understand their own cultural assumptions and realize how their own culture, life experiences, attitudes, values, and biases influence them (Beagan, 2003), thereby facilitating recognition of the similarities and differences among different cultural/ethnic groups (Beagan, 2003).  Providers will understand why different cultures might have different views, values, and needs, and will also be motivated to tailor the treatment of patients to meet their cultural needs. 

When patients receive high-quality care tailored to meet their needs regardless of their race, ethnicity, or culture, and without any bias, they can say that they receive culturally competent care.  The APA (VandenBos, 2007) defined cultural competency as” possession of the skills and knowledge that are appropriate for and specific culture to a given culture, and the capacity to function effectively in different cultural settings other than one’s own. This usually involve a recognition of the diversity both between and within cultures, a capacity forcultural self-assessment, and a willingness to adapt personal behaviors and practices” (p. 249). 


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Corey, G., Corey, M. S., & Callanan, P. (2011). Issues and ethics in the helping professions. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Myers, H. F., & Hwang, W. (2008). Ethnocultural issues in behavioral medicine. In L. M. Cohen, D. E. McChargue, & F. G. Collins (Eds.), The health psychology handbook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Retrieved from

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