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Book Review   |    
Joan Williamson
Psychiatric Services 2010; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.61.4.423
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by James Lake, M.D.; New York, Norton Professional Books, 2009, 382 pages, $34.95

Ms. Williamson is an integrative mental health practitioner and director of Integrative Mental Health Care of Oregon, Salem.

Clinician, integrative psychiatrist, and author and educator James Lake, M.D., is a leading contributor to the judicious incorporation of complementary and alternative medicine into the conventional treatment of mental disorders. His latest text, Integrative Mental Health Care, written with non-medically trained mental health practitioners in mind, is a remarkably thorough, highly informative, and instructive guide for practitioners with varying degrees of familiarity with integrative practice. One soon realizes in reading this work and others by Dr. Lake that he has a great capacity for holding in mind the clinical complexities and multiple layers of possible meanings in the symptoms that clients present while never losing sight of the most essential element in the treatment process—an "authentic and compassionate" therapeutic relationship. Though a conventionally trained psychiatrist himself, through his cross-cultural studies and reasoned scientific inquiry into other systems of healing, Dr. Lake states in his preface that he has "no doubt that there is profound truth and practical clinical relevance in all ways of knowing about illness."

In this clearly written, practical, well-referenced text, Dr. Lake teaches readers how to think more integratively about all phases of the process—from assessment, formulation, and treatment to considerations in making referrals. Ethical, legal, and safety guidelines are offered throughout the book. The author describes a wide range of complementary and alternative medicine therapies and, citing available evidence, categorizes them in quick-reference tables as being "more substantiated" or "less substantiated" for treating symptoms of depression, mood swings, anxiety, attention deficit, psychosis, cognitive impairment, substance abuse, and sleep disturbances. Methods discussed range from recommendations about lifestyle to some of the latest research on the use of natural supplements, including amino acids and herbs. In-depth case vignettes demonstrate the highly individualized, multifaceted nature of the integrative model and contrast treatment considerations for moderate versus more severe symptom presentations. Appendices contain an extensive list of valuable resources, including reputable Web sites for evaluating natural supplements and locating practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine.

Dr. Lake systematically builds a convincing case for incorporating alternative and complementary assessment and treatment methods into conventional practices in the hope of transforming Western medicine into "something more beautiful, more meaningful and more effective." This excellent, user-friendly resource guide contributes greatly to that transformative vision.

The reviewer reports no competing interests.

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