We are starting to get the message. Many of us are finally waking up to the fact that something has to change with our current model of health care. In the realm of health care, we are beginning to implement the idea of prevention by eating better foods, exercising more and cutting out harmful lifestyle activities. But is this enough to create sustainable change? Will this modest shift in perspective create the necessary change to allow all of us to regain power over our bodies and live whole, fulfilling lives? Where do you want the focus of your health and life to be?

If the focus for health is on evading symptoms and prevention, we are still fixated on what we do not want through an avoidance strategy. The current biomedical model views health as an absence from having symptoms – the symptom is a problem, and it must be gotten rid of. This paradigm is the Restorative Therapeutic model proposed by Donald Epstein, D.C. With this model, there is a basic premise that “something is disturbing the way I feel and live my life.” This model seeks cause and blame and returns someone back to his/her prior state by labeling the disturbance as “wrong” and stopping it. One knows success has been achieved because there is a return to a previous state before the symptom manifested.

Epstein likens this model with trying to drive forward in your car by looking in the rear view mirror, knowing that is where you do not want to go. Where is the focus? How well will that work?

He proposes a new model of wellness and holism to create a structure that will facilitate a paradigm shift: Reorganizational Healing. This model seeks connection and depth of meaning to create new life possibilities. It is essentially a humanistic or social science and can be applied in any model that seeks higher order and a more efficient configuration.

In Reorganizational Healing, there is still the underlying premise as in Restorative Therapeutics that “something is disturbing the way I feel and live my life.” However, with this model, the focus shifts compared to where it is with the Restorative model. The disturbance is now a means to suggest that some sort of life change is necessary. The symptom, although uncomfortable and disruptive, is a means for instruction. It is meant to interrupt existing patterns of behavior and create adaptive strategies in the individual. With Reorganizational Healing, success is achieved by creating a new-ordered, energy efficient state at a higher level of organization. New actions, new consciousness states, change and adaptability are desired outcomes. Symptoms and crisis have little to do with the internal experience of wellness, and new resources can be fortified despite crisis or symptoms. A new standard for life is established.

We can compare the two models when looking at the example of a messy, disorganized closet. Perhaps there is one box that falls out every time you open the closet door. Every time the box falls out you squeeze together the other closet inhabitants to make a little more room and restore the box to where it was before. Lo and behold, a few weeks later, the box falls out again, and the process continues.

One day you decide, “Enough of this.” You take the box out – along with all the other items in the closet! A huge chaotic mess ensues, but you begin to sift through and get rid of that which no longer serves you. You can reorganize the closet into a more ordered, efficient arrangement so the box can never fall out again – and maybe you will then discover exactly where your high school yearbook is in the process!

Donald Epstein’s original article on Reorganizational Healing appeared in Volume 15, Number 5, of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2009.

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