25 Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Health Psychology


  1. Christine Maguth Nezu PhD, ABPP1,
  2. Minsun Lee MA2,
  3. Sarah Ricelli MS2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop209025

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Nezu, C. M., Lee, M. and Ricelli, S. 2012. Complementary and Alternative Therapies. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 9:IV:25.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Drexel University, Departments of Psychology and Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

  2. 2

    Drexel University, Department of Psychology, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


The term complementary and alternative therapy (CAM) describes an array of treatments that serve as an adjunct to standard medicine practices but also serve as systems of intervention on their own. Many of these approaches promote a holistic view of medicine, positing that psychological or emotional experiences have an interactive relationship with physical experiences, and a growing body of research supports this link (see Astin, Shapiro, Eisenberg, & Forys, 2003; Cohen & Herbert, 1996; Pelletier, 1992). This is not limited to links between physical conditions and an individual's current mental state, as there is also mounting evidence to suggest that early traumatic experience and ongoing life stress can combine to affect the course of clinical disorders (Barreau et al., 2007). In this chapter we present a description of popular CAM approaches, their clinical applications, and a brief summary of supporting research. Our review includes approaches originating from Western and Eastern cultural traditions, as well as herbal remedies, lifestyle modifications, tactile therapies, movement therapies, and psychological (mind–body) therapies. Suggestions for future research are provided.


  • complementary and alternative medicine;
  • mind-body;
  • integrative medicine