How do you describe the meaning of Integrative Health?
Integrative Health considers the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual factors that contribute to a person’s overall wellbeing. In practice, an Integrative Health provider would gather an extensive client history regarding prior trauma, medications, cultural or spiritual practices and diet/nutrition. The treatment would then address these various facets and might also include self-regulation skills, self-healing and self-care strategies in conjunction with referrals to appropriate providers—such as prescribers, therapists, registered dieticians, nutritionists, endocrinologists, neurologists, etc.—depending on the client’s needs.
What can a client expect to experience with Travco’s new Integrative Health Program?
The Integrative Health Program at Travco may include a myriad of providers both inside and outside of the organization. At the heart of an integrative approach is the inclusion of all aspects of an individual, their environment and beyond! In addition to a therapist and/or prescriber, a client may be recommended to work with a registered dietician, nutritionist, endocrinologist or perhaps even a yoga instructor, Reiki instructor, chiropractor, acupuncturist, a spiritual or religious counselor or other providers that can further promote the client’s overall wellbeing.
Can you provide an example of how Integrative Health has worked for a client?
Sarah (whose name and other identifying details have been changed to protect privacy) presented with concerns related to opioid use, chronic pain, depression with anxiety and complex trauma. Sarah reported she had been seeing psychiatrists and therapists for years with no significant progress, which caused her reluctance to participate in treatment. I met with Sarah for some time before we both realized that perhaps her previous treatment attempts had been unsuccessful because an integrative approach was not present. We further discussed her daily routine, her mood status, where she felt the trauma in her body and medication history. It was also important to consider her Hispanic cultural background. This helped Sarah to feel heard and validated and helped motivate her to engage in treatment. As we continued to work collaboratively with our staff physician, we also referred Sarah to our registered dietician and an outside chiropractor. By considering the whole person and then providing treatment accordingly, Sarah noticed a long-awaited change. She reported her psychiatric medications were working better (and some were no longer needed). She was also able to resolve a large part of her trauma through this integrative approach. She was grateful and thrilled because she felt like she had her life back again.
What are the benefits of Integrative Health?
When a clinician provides treatment informed by the mind-body connection, additional avenues of healing become available to clients who might have had unsuccessful treatment in the past. Many neuroscientists have shown in recent research that the stomach and/or the entire gastrointestinal tract are now considered a “second brain”—providing new understanding that many neurotransmitters associated with mental health are located in the gut—rather than the brain, as was previously believed. Operating with this new understanding, a client might, for example, be advised to incorporate specific diet changes into their routine as part of an integrative approach.
What training is required to be an Integrative Health provider?
The training to be certified in Integrative Health can vary depending on the provider’s specialty. For example, this training is available for providers such as counselors, marriage and family therapists, nurse practitioners, psychologists, registered dieticians and social workers. The training requires that a person must be practicing in one of these areas and show proof of licensure prior to obtaining the certification. The training consists of many different modules covering 18 areas followed by a cumulative post exam. When the exam has been completed, the provider can apply for certification. The candidate must also attest that, over the course of their career, he/she/they have conducted a minimum of 20 clinical sessions with clients in which integrative approaches were part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
Is Integrative Health evidence-based?
Integrative Health is an evidence-based approach with certain parts that have been practiced since ancient times! The body of research continues to grow regarding the biology of many mental health conditions or the relation to human biology therein. This is exciting because more objective measures are now being utilized to show the efficacy and fidelity of these treatment approaches.
If you’re looking for Integrative Health treatment, Travco Behavioral Health can help! Contact us today at 330.286.0050.
Kyle Benning, MSEd, LPCC, CIMHP, is a certified Integrative Health provider and counselor at Travco. Back in middle school, Kyle became interested in the idea of vegetarianism, precipitated by a concern for individual and animal welfare. His mother was/is a vegetarian, and his father was passionate about weightlifting. With this influence, he engaged in a change with his exercise and diet. From there, he continued his exercise journey in college where his undergraduate studies focused on psychology, science and human biology. He became especially interested in research about the gut as a “second brain.” When he initially began working as a mental health counselor, he saw that an understanding of the mind-body connection was often missing from clients’ treatment. In the agency where he worked, he became the liaison between medical and clinical providers, helping them collaborate to provide an integrative treatment experience. He continues to pursue additional training and intends to continue his education at the doctoral level, ideally conducting his own research and providing Integrative Health Services for people in the community.