Types of Complementary Therapies

Mind-body medicine. A wide variety of complementary therapies are used to relieve stress and enhance quality of life by producing relaxation. Hypnosis is the induction of a deeply relaxed state during which the therapist works to increase suggestibility and to help patients suspend critical faculties. Once in this state, sometimes called a hypnotic trance, patients are given therapeutic suggestions to encourage changes in behavior or symptom relief. Visualization and imagery techniques involve the induction of a relaxed state followed by use of a visual image, such as a pastoral scene, that enhances the sense of relaxation. Progressive relaxation involves sequential tensing and relaxing of muscles. Acupuncture. Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine needles at special points on the body. Although details of practice may differ between individual schools, all traditional Chinese medical theory is based in the Taoist concept of yin and yang and the flow of Qi (energy) along hypothesized channels in the body. Stimulating acupuncture points situated on these channels provides one way of altering the flow of energy. Modern scientific understanding views acupuncture points as corresponding to physiologic and anatomic features such as peripheral nerve junctions. Massage. Therapeutic massage involves manipulation of the soft tissue of whole or partial body areas to induce general improvements in health, such as relaxation or improved sleep, or specific physical benefits, such as relief of muscular aches and pains. Music therapy. Music therapy is the controlled use of music to effect clinical change. Music therapists select and play live music according to patient mood and preference. They may involve patients in music making by having them develop lyrics, sing, or play a drum.

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