Combining Western medical techniques with Traditional Chinese Medicine presents many challenges for practitioners. Working in combination mental health and pain management practice further complicates treatment choices. Many patients seeking help for psychological problems also have corresponding chronic physical ailments. The opposite is also true. Most patients that have chronic physical ailments also have chronic corresponding psychological problems. A practitioner who is dealing with this type of patient is wise to consider the entire individual and both aspects of these expressions of illness.
In our practice we combine counseling, psychiatric, chiropractic, massage therapy and qigong to offered range of treatment that addresses the varied complaints of our patients. I have found, over almost 20 years of practice, that patients improve far more rapidly if they are offered both physical and psychological therapy when addressing their illness. Obviously an individual with a severe chronic injury, who is unable to work or perform normal household tasks, is going to be depressed. Who wouldn't be? What I find interesting is how often the illness or injury is a reflection of the individual's personality, and one of the keys to healing the injury is addressing the aspect of the personality that is "blocking" healing. For example, a woman receives a neck injury at work, damages vertebrae and is unable to work because of the pain. She stays home, the pain increases, and she is unable to return to work. She is surprised to be informed that doing dishes, mopping floors and carrying children is "work" and worsens her injury. She is frightened of not being a good wife, mother and person and so eventually becomes totally disabled as a result of her fear. This type of behavior is no surprise to the practitioner who routinely works with people, but how can qigong help heal injury and reduce the fear in an individual like this who has absolutely no interest in traditional oriental medicine or practice?
It is surprising how easily many of the principles of qigong can be woven into psycho- and physical therapy. Both Daoist (Taoist) and Buddhist qigong orientations can help make the connections between the natural order of life and healthy living in the world. Teaching qigong in a mental health setting for years had shown me how an anxious individual will move with the "energy" of anxiety. Angry individuals move with the "energy" of anger. Frightened individual move with the "energy of fear, and so on. Using qigong therapy or teaching qigong practice can alleviate some of the symptoms of an ailment, but if the individuals thoughts and behaviors remain distorted by fear, anger etc. the symptoms, and ailment are likely to return. I have seen qigong practice heal a troubled mind but just as often a see a troubled mind prevent an individual from receiving the maximum benefit of qigong practice.
My qigong masters have always stressed, "Qi follows the mind, the mind leads the Qi". Stagnant qi in the body can take many forms. It is necessary to discharge or drain stagnant qi in order to replace it with healthy qi. Just as lesions or infection or other "physical" manifestations of illness can block the healthy flow of energy, fear, anger and other potentially negative emotions can also block the healthy flow of energy. My qigong master Tianyou Hao in Cleveland stresses the importance of an open mind as well as an open body and places emphasis on "mind power" qigong as an integral component of physical practice.