Choosing a mind-body therapy isn't easy, and doing some "homework"
before making your choice can help you identify the practice that is
best for you. You can learn about different therapies and practices by
selecting them from the menu on the right. Then ask yourself:
- What do you want from the therapy?
Do you want to address your stress so you can decrease your risk of
disease? Do you need to find a way to cope with physical symptoms? Are
you looking to treat a particular disease? Or are you looking to
increase your general wellbeing? If you have a specific health goal,
ask your provider which therapies he or she would recommend and do some
research on your own-there is lots of information out there.
- What's appealing? Do
you like to dance, sing, paint, exercise? Choosing a therapy you'll
enjoy increases your chances of sustaining and reaping the benefits of
a mind-body practice.
- What's logistically realistic at this point? How
much free time do you really have to devote to this practice? Are there
financial constraints? Is there an instructor or therapist in your
community to help you get started? Your commitment to a particular
practice may evolve over time, but it's important to base your initial
choice on what's realistic for you now.
- What physical, intellectual, and/or spiritual characteristics must you consider? Can
you settle down in a sitting position or do you prefer to move? Do you
find that music or art brings you a peace you don't find elsewhere? Are
you comfortable with a spiritual approach? Think about your
characteristics and choose a mind-body therapy that incorporates them.
Again, that is not to say that these characteristics don't change over
time. But honor your present self as you begin your mind-body journey.
- What is safe and effective? Generally,
mind-body therapies are very safe. Remember that mind-body therapies
have a rich and ever-expanding body of research supporting their
efficacy. In the end, however, you are responsible for ensuring your
own safe and effective mind-body routine, so tailor it to your needs.
example, if you're choosing a therapy with an intense physical
component, seek approval from your healthcare provider and listen to
your body to avoid overdoing it. If you are suffering from depression
or a personality disorder, talk with your primary therapist before
doing meditation , clinical hypnosis , or guided imagery (and some type
of expressive therapies that use guided imagery). If you're using
medication, monitor yourself to determine if your mind-body practice
reduces your need.
What support or instruction will I need?
therapies and practices differ in the amount of professional support
necessary. Some, like breathing , just need basic initial instruction.
such as biofeedback , guided imagery , and meditation , need more
extensive initial training and then can be practiced on your own.
others, such as music therapy or clinical hypnosis , might need ongoing
contact with a practitioner. In many cases a group or community of
individuals engaged in a practice similar to yours can be invaluable
for support and advice.
How can I find support?
support and instruction can hugely impact your chance of success. When
seeking professional guidance, keep these tips in mind:
with your primary healthcare provider(s) or someone you believe to be
knowledgeable about your chosen mind-body therapy, and ask if they can
recommend a trained professional to help you as you begin your program.
these recommendations and gather information via phone. Ask basic
questions about credentials and practice. Where did they receive their
training? What licenses or certifications do they have? How much will
the treatment, classes, or support cost?
- Check with your insurer to see if they will cover the cost of this particular mind-body therapy (and check your budget if not).
selecting a mind-body practitioner, teacher, or class, make a list of
questions to ask at your first visit. Be prepared to answer questions
about your health history, including injuries, surgeries, major
illnesses, and any drugs you take.
- After a visit or
two, decide if your practitioner, class, or instructor is right for
you. Did you feel comfortable, and could you freely communicate? Does
the mind-body therapy plan seem reasonable and acceptable to you?
How can I create a successful mind-body practice?
any new health regime, including a mind-body therapy program, requires
you to change your habits, your schedule, and your mind. Here are five
steps to starting on and sticking with a mind-body practice:
- Identify what you want to change.
- Set a clear and realistic goal .
- Recognize challenges you may face, so you can plan for them.
- Create specific, measurable action steps.
- Enlist support.
- Check your progress on your action steps as you move to your goal and make adjustments as necessary.
these "steps to success" are easier said than done. If you need support
with organizing your time, determining your goals, or just motivating
yourself, check out our Healthy Lifestyle Tools . This online tool is an easy, confidential, and no-cost resource
created by University of Minnesota experts and PBS to help you make and
maintain good health choices.
CAM on PubMed
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
The New Medicine