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Engaging and Supporting Volunteers in Integrative Health Programs

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An increasing number of hospitals and other healthcare environments are now beginning to incorporate integrative health interventions into their settings to meet the stress or symptom management needs of both patients and employees. These practices often include massage, canine visits, art, music, energy healing, guided imagery, essential oils, yoga, and Tai Chi, and work in tandem with mainstream medicine to address everything from patient boredom to emotional distress, physical symptoms of pain, anxiety, and nausea.

While interest in integrative health interventions in hospitals has grown over the last several years, the use of volunteers in these programs has grown, too. And as integrative care expert Cathrine Weaver writes in this issue of e-Volunteerism, there has also been an uptick in the unanticipated need for emotional support and more focused monitoring of volunteers in these programs. “The integrative interventions volunteer role makes great demands on the individual, and these demands can take an emotional toll,” writes Weaver. “Understanding this has helped us see the importance of supporting these volunteers in a different way.”

In this feature story, Weaver explores how to engage volunteers in integrative health programs and how to provide the monitoring behaviors and support they need to maintain their own wellbeing while helping others.