Health Psychology and Social Justice

By Dr. William Clancy

One of the most satisfying aspects of practicing mindfulness based health psychology is that we see results. We are proud to be practicing from a growing body of biopsychosocial research that repeatedly demonstrates the potential and cost effectiveness of mindfulness and acceptance based intervention in successful treatment of health problems. The Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) movement has begun to legitimize the utilization of so-called alternative healing practices alongside alopathic medical intervention.

We’re looking to add to that body of research with the added challenge of doing so from a social-justice model.

Allow me to explain a little further. In psychology, mindfulness-based interventions are alternatives to traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy models. They are based in Eastern philosophical and healing practices that have centuries of tradition behind them. In short, mindfulness and acceptance represent a distinct cultural perspective.

As mindfulness-based interventions are currently being integrated into Western medicine and psychology (which also represent a distinct cultural perspective), there has been little attention paid as to how to integrate culturally different healing practices.

I believe this integrative process needs to be done with sensitivity, respect and a sense of justice for each of the cultural perspectives that are involved. Unfortunately this has not always been the case.

I invite you to check back in the weeks to come to see how I go about studying and utilizing Eastern healing practices, including Iyengar Yoga, so as to preserve its cultural roots and to facilitate a successful cross-cultural adoption into the Western integrative health system.

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