TMA 03

Discuss what complementary and alternative therapies have to offer mental health service users/survivors.

This essay will begin by looking at the meaning of complementary and alternative therapies; as the name suggests, complementary therapies usually complement or work alongside mainstream medicine while alternative therapies offer treatments that can replace orthodox medical treatment altogether.

Complementary and alternative therapies which are often abbreviated to CAMs include approaches to health that are based on traditional healing methods from non-western cultures. Another definition of complementary and alternative approaches is that they are:

“a broad domain of healing resources that encompass all health systems, modalities, and practices and their accompanying theories and beliefs, other than those intrinsic to the politically dominant health systems of a particular society or culture in a given historical period”{the Cochrane collaboration, quoted in house                                                                                                      of lords,2000,para. 1.12}.

The use of CAMs are becoming increasingly popular in the UK. This could be as a result of people trying and finding the CAM methods very effective; another way to try and understand the change is to see it as a reaction against orthodox medicine.

Surveys carried out showed that in recent times, people are more likely to question authority and less likely to trust expert opinion than they did in the past. The general medical council has described this shift in attitudes as ‘a flight from science’, which could be attributed to the media’s unbalanced reporting of health related issues such as genetically modified food(house of lords 2000). A good example of people questioning expert opinion is the health debate about the measles, mumps and rubella(MMR) vaccine(unit 7). An initial research of the vaccine showed that a combination of the three virus strains contained in MMR may overload the body’s immune system and give rise to certain complications and a later one saw the controversial vaccine as a safe and effective way to protect children from disease (BBC news: health 2003)(reading 8).

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Another explanation for the increased popularity of CAMs is that people tend to try it more because of what they have to offer; I looked into the yellow pages and was surprised to see how many CAMs were in my area. Most of them made claims about the therapeutic effect it would have as well as complete relaxation, stress relief, relief from physical pain, weight loss and so much more. The information I got about the CAMs was so interesting and convincing that I have decided to try out acupuncture myself. If I felt that way, then certainly most people ...

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