CE credits: 1
Exam items: 10
After completing this course participants will be able to:
• Describe the 14 most frequently used CAM modalities.
• Explain the ethics standards relevant to integrating CAM into
• Explain the training needed to integrate CAM into
• List the CAM modalities potentially appropriate for
psychologists to integrate into practice with their clients.
Did you know that you may already be providing complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) in your practice?
If you have used meditation, biofeedback, hypnosis or
progressive muscle relaxation, you are part of the growing field
of CAM, a group of diverse medical and health-care systems,
practices and products that are not generally considered part
of conventional medicine. While often grouped together,
complementary and alternative medicine are actually two
separate forms of treatment. Complementary medicine is used
in addition to conventional forms of medicine. Alternative
medicine is used instead of conventional medicine.
People have used many CAM
treatments for thousands of years, but
it was not until 1999 that the National
Institutes of Health (NIH) created the
National Center for Complementary and
Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) with a
mission of defining “the usefulness and
safety of complementary and alternative
medicine interventions and their roles
in improving health and health care”
Now, incorporating CAM into
both daily life and health care is part
of a larger movement that focuses on
more integrative and holistic care. The
psychology profession — with its strong
history of integrating innovations — is
among those embracing CAM.
Interestingly, Eisenberg et al. (1998)
determined that people visited CAM
practitioners 243 million more times
than they visited primary-care physicians in the preceding
year. According to 2007 data from NCCAM, 38. 3 percent of
adults and 11. 8 percent of children reported having used a
form of CAM in the preceding year (Barnes et al., 2008). This
corresponds with nearly $34 billion being spent each year
on CAM products and services (Briggs, 2007). Although this
amount accounts for only 1. 5 percent of the total amount spent
on health care, it is nearly 11. 2 percent of out-of-pocket health-
care costs (Briggs, 2007).
Many dietary supplements are used to promote health and
wellness as well as to treat pain, depression and anxiety.
Commonly used supplements include ginkgo biloba, St. John’s
wort, vitamin supplements and
echinacea. Dietary supplements
are regulated by the Food
and Drug Administration
(FDA) but are held to very
different quality standards
than more conventional forms
of medicine. Of specific note,
the FDA does not review the
safety and effectiveness of any
supplement before it is sold
to consumers. As a result, the
potency or composition of the
supplements may vary between
manufacturers or even within
a single manufacturer’s batch.
Much of the research on dietary
supplements varies due to this
lack of regulation.
It is essential that
psychologists be aware of the
risks that may come with using dietary supplements so that they
are able to competently advise their clients about their use, such
as by referring them to their physicians when indicated. Despite
the risks, 17. 7 percent of people surveyed had taken a dietary
supplement in the past year, according to Barnes et al. (2008).
While psychologists might educate clients on the substances
themselves, they should be making referrals to primary-care