Over the years many different models of CAM delivery have developed. They range from the single doctor or practitioner in private practice, through multi-disciplinary CAM clinics where joint approaches to patient care involving cross-referrals take place, to CAM doctors and practitioners working collaboratively in conventional healthcare settings such as GP and specialist practices, and (university) hospital-based in-patient and out-patient clinics.
An important part of the CAM health professional’s task is diagnostic work: working in close collaboration with the patient to track down any health imbalance and its causative factors. In addition to any specific treatment that may be given, advice is given on adaptation of lifestyle, diet and behaviour, suggesting the use of appropriate stress-reduction techniques and exercise. The patient is an active participant in this healing process; his/her commitment to change calls on the innate regenerative potential of every individual. Since each person is unique, treatment programmes are generally tailored to each individual’s requirements.
The holistic approach of CAM does not replace the biomedical concept of disease. Rather, it includes and goes beyond this concept considering all that contributes to good and bad health (i.e. a wide spectrum of predisposing factors) that the average conventional medical doctor often has neither the time, nor always the training to explore. This may include detailed consideration of dietary issues and present and past stress factors that may respond to the adoption of mindfulness practice, designed to modulate the stress response and improve unhealthy behaviours.