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Holistic Health Educators
as Agents of Transformative Change

by the staff of the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS)

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Rising consumer discontent and socio-economic and political crises are challenging the Western biomedical dominance of health care. Recent studies document the increasing use of complementary therapies as alternatives to the limitations of biomedicine, highlightling the need for significant reforms in both the scientific and delivery aspects of health care and health professional training.

Increasingly, health professionals and policy makers are seeing the benefits of working with health care consumers in a partnership to promote wellness and healthy lifestyles. Educating consumers about these complementary options for achieving and maintaining health, either through individual counseling or public health campaigns, is a key element in the movement toward promoting health and preventing disease.

The Integral Health Studies Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) offers an M.A. in Integral Health Education, which prepares students to pass the national certifying examination for health educators. A community-based approach is at the heart of health education's focus on health promotion and disease prevention. Graduates will be prepared to serve as health educators in a variety of settings, including hospitals, educational facilities, government health agencies and the corporate world.

Program Director La Vera Draisin describes the role of health educators as agents of transformative change in the health care system: "Health educators can play a crucial role in addressing rising consumer discontent with the existing health care system. The concept and practice of integral health expands our Western scientific model of health and healing by considering cross-cultural approaches to health and illness, acknowledging the mental, emotional and spiritual realms which lie within and beyond our physical bodies. Integral health affirms the well-being of an individual as interconnected within the web of all living, self-organizing systems."

Linda Bark, graduate of the Institute's Integral Health Certificate program and a Ph.D. student at CIIS, has been working in Guangzhou, China to create training seminars for people who are interested in learning about Chinese traditional medicine. In the U.S. she specializes in working with new and existing holistic healing centers.

The Integral Health Studies Program has just expanded to include an exciting new curriculum in Herbal Studies. David Hoffmann, internationally known medical herbalist and author of The Holistic Herbal, teaches in the Herbal Program. The Herbal Studies curriculum includes courses in Green Science, Cross-Cultural Aspects of Herbalism, Practical Herbal Medicine and Herbalism, Culture and Society.

An integral approach to health care is consonant with the shifting paradigm in medical science and provides a common language for exploring personal, collective and global health and healing for the 21st century. As a means fo improving individual, community and global health, the mission of the Integral Health Studies Program is to further define and contribute to the current paradigm shift in health care towards an integral model. We also wish to promote a vision of holism, pluralism and ecological systems thinking among health care providers, policy makers and delivery systems.

CIIS is a unique, independent institute of higher learning dedicated to integrating theoretical knowledge, personal experience and spiritual wisdom. For more information, see their website at


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