Mind-body CAM interventions: current status and considerations for integration into clinical health psychology

J Clin Psychol. 2013 Jan;69(1):45-63. doi: 10.1002/jclp.21910. Epub 2012 Aug 30.


Objective: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasingly used for treating myriad health conditions and for maintaining general health. The present article provides an overview of current CAM use with a specific focus on mind-body CAM and its efficacy in treating health conditions.

Method: Characteristics of CAM users are presented, and then evidence regarding the efficacy of mind-body treatments (biofeedback, meditation, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, hypnosis, yoga, tai chi, and qi gong) is reviewed.

Results: Demographics associated with CAM use are fairly well-established, but less is known about their psychological characteristics. Although the efficacy of mind-body CAM modalities for health conditions is receiving a great deal of research attention, studies have thus far produced a weak base of evidence. Methodological limitations of current research are reviewed. Suggestions are made for future research that will provide more conclusive knowledge regarding efficacy and, ultimately, effectiveness of mind-body CAM. Considerations for clinical applications, including training and competence, ethics, treatment tailoring, prevention efforts, and diversity, conclude the article.

Conclusions: Integration of CAM modalities into clinical health psychology can be useful for researchers taking a broader perspective on stress and coping processes, illness behaviors, and culture; for practitioners seeking to incorporate CAM perspectives into their work; and for policy makers in directing healthcare resources wisely.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Integrative Medicine*
  • Male
  • Mind-Body Therapies / methods*
  • Motivation
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Psychology, Clinical*
  • Research