Understanding the Placebo Effect in Complementary Medicine: Theory, Practice, and Research

By David Peters | Go to book overview

5
How can we optimize non-specific
effects?
James Hawkins
The challenge
Writing style
Definition, components and power of the placebo effect
What are the implications for us as therapists?
A useful way to view the process of change
A couple of practical exercises
Going beyond 'just thinking about it' Problem solving
How can we encourage expectancy of improvement?
Warmth, interest, empathy and caring
How can patients feel more listened to and cared for?

Editor's note

James Hawkins presents the therapeutic relationship as the most powerful trigger for self-healing responses. He asks how practitioners can begin to use these effects skillfully. James is an orthopaedic physician, acupuncturist and hypnotherapist. He runs therapy groups and teaches yoga and his particular interest is chronic pain, so in his work he has learned to move fluently between the physical and the psychological aspects of working with pain. He encourages us, however we practice, to take an honest look at how we relate to our clients; and how that shapes the way we work and affects the outcome. More than this he challenges us to take more than just an academic interest in these effects, warning the reader that owning this book is no substitute for action. He explains that though change is difficult, as practitioners we may come to a point where we feel impelled to go beyond just paying lip service to the idea that non-specific effects are significant. Reflection is good, he says, awareness of non-specific effects and their potency is fine, but will you the reader actually do better work with your patients as a result of what you learn from this book? Seeing every consultation as an opportunity to become a clinician-researcher, James argues from the outset that action research can be a conscious way of developing these skills—providing we take care to evaluate their impact rigorously. In this chapter he offers us a took-kit for action research and reflective learning.

It is not too much science, but a narrow and impoverished view of science, which handicaps contemporary medicine.

Leon Eisenberg (1988)

-69-

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