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Advances in Complementary & Alternative medicine

The Healing Circle: An Ethnographic Research Study of Human Interaction Within a New Model of Integrative Medicine

  • Open or CloseMeg Jordan*

    Department Chair, Professor of Integrative Health, California Institute of Integral Studies, University in San Francisco, USA

    *Corresponding author:Meg Jordan, Department Chair, Professor of Integrative Health, California Institute of Integral Studies, University in San Francisco, USA

Submission: January 24, 2020; Published: February 05, 2020

DOI: 10.31031/ACAM.2020.05.000622

ISSN: 2637-7802
Volume5 Issue5


This ethnographic study explores an innovative experiment in integrative medicine known as the healing circle, as developed by a collaborative group of biomedical and alternative health practitioners in northern California. The original intent of the circle was to surmount the perceived shortcoming in many integrative clinics of subordinating and trivializing alternative healing practices as mere treatment options, under the auspices of biomedicine. The practitioners sought to create a more level playing field, in which an actual blending or harmonizing of disparate medical world views could be accomplished. The goal was to better serve patients with complex chronic disease by offering them an expanded array of healing options, a generous time for hearing their narratives, and the convenience of receiving viewpoints from practitioners of multiple modalities (e.g., ayurvedic, traditional Chinese medicine, herbalism, homeopathy) in one place, at one time. What emerged in this well-intentioned effort were escalating tensions and numerous interpersonal difficulties inherent in the attempt to negotiate understandings of widely opposing philosophies and epistemologies. Lack of skills and awareness in communicating, negotiating, and mediating among different disciplines derailed their best efforts. Half-way through this fieldwork, the circle’s mission switched to a more cohesive facilitation of the meaning of someone’s illness. The revised circle achieved a new solidarity among practitioners but met with an uneven response from clients.

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