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Encouraging Hope & Empowerment through Complementary & Alternative Medicine

March 10, 2015



Vista Hill SmartCare is an Integrated Behavioral Health Care Program.  “Integrated” because we are partnered with rural health care clinics, have teams of behavioral health care members working side by side the providers, and providing their wellness interventions within the health care setting.

Additionally though, I believe that we strive to be “Integrated” by supporting our patients’ rights to choose to include Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) as a part of their health care.  And of course, the patient is the 3rd,  but primary,  key partner.

“Alternative medicine refers to those practices explicitly used for the purpose of medical intervention, health promotion or disease prevention which are not routinely taught at U.S. medical schools nor routinely underwritten by third-party payers within the U.S. health care system”,  according to Harvard.

The preventative focus of CAM is a perfect fit for SmartCare: strengthening and preserving health vs. curing illness.  CAM covers many practices: there are whole medical systems, which include ancient healing systems such as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine,  homeopathy and naturopathy;  mind-body medicine, such as  meditation, prayer, relaxation and art therapies; biologically based practices, which include dietary supplements and herbal remedies; manipulation and body based practices, including chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation and massage; and energy medicine, such as qi gong, therapeutic touch, reiki and magnet therapy.

As we work in partnership with our partnering health clinics, we of course communicate with the  providers, so that they are aware of any complementary or alternative practices our patients may be utilizing.  Many patients have much to teach us with the practices they bring from their own cultures, for example, through their herbs and dietary practices as well as spiritual beliefs.

It’s been a delight to pair yoga and art in our recent wellness camps to over 100 Ramona youth.  Additionally, after we learned more about reiki and aromatherapy at our annual retreat, we are excited to bring this information out to the communities we serve through Wellness events.

And, of course, Mindfulness practices have become a routine intervention in many of our Wellness activities as well as our individual and family interventions.

Our SmartCare teams strive to be a part of our patients’ healing journey, by being mindful of our own healing environments and incorporating wellness in ways that are significant to each of us, through our ongoing training and our daily practices.

It seems to us that being an equal partner and having a sense of control in their health care and well-being, situations that often times seem to feel uncontrollable, is a vital factor in our patients’ motivation, participation and positive outcomes.  Just as health care providers can and do successfully work in partnership with behavioral health providers for the ultimate care and well-being of their patients, so too can conventional medicine and alternative medicine successfully work together for ultimate wellness.


Pamela Sachs, LCSW


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