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Textbook of Integrative Mental Health Care

Textbook of Integrative Mental Health Care by James H. Lake. New York, NY: Thieme Medical Publishers; 2007. Hardcover; 374 pages. ISBN: 1-58890-299-4 (ISBN: 3-13-136671-0). $129.95.

James H. Lake, MD, is a board-certified psychiatrist in private practice in Monterey, California. He is currently in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University Hospital. Dr. Lake has a long-standing interest and expertise in alternative or integrative treatments within traditional psychiatry and is currently chairperson of the American Psychiatric Association Caucus on Complementary, Alternative and Integrative Approaches in Mental Healthcare. He has written 2 other books on similar subjects: Chinese Medical Psychiatry: A Textbook and Clinical Manual, and Complementary and Alternative Treatments in Mental Health Care.

Dr. Lake is certainly the right person to write this book. The book is not written for the general public; it is intended for mental health professionals who are interested in adding new perspectives and treatment approaches for their patients. Clearly, psychiatry is a medical specialty that has been limited to rather crude and non-specific tools with which to heal the human psyche. And psychiatry has seen its share of criticism for (over)using these treatments in an attempt to mend the purportedly broken chemistry of the brain, or at least relieve some of the most painful symptoms. This book could provide a potential pathway for physicians who are so inclined to look for a more holistic approach. Here the reader will find encouragement for kinder and gentler treatments for illnesses that are already associated with such misery.

The book is divided into two primary parts. Part I is called Foundations and Methods of Integrative Mental Health Care. Six chapters deal with topics including the evolution of integrative medicine, its philosophy, and how its paradigms differ from mainstream medicine. Also included are primers in how to take a proper patient history and formulate a treatment plan based on the best, currently available evidence. Chapter 6 was especially interesting to me since several areas of nonconventional treatment that lack a clear scientific base are discussed in a rational, yet delicate way. I would be surprised if there were many readers on either side who would be inclined to take offense. In fact, this could be said to be a primary strength of this book—the ease with which Dr. Lake moves between conventional and nonconventional models without missing a beat and with compassion for his audience and his clients.

Part II is Integrative Management of Common Mental and Emotional Symptoms. Here the reader will find 8 chapters, each dealing with various categories of mental disorders including depression, mania, anxiety, psychosis, dementia, substance abuse, and sleep disorders. Each chapter explores the current basis for integrative approaches for assessing and treating the most common core symptoms. Treatment suggestions are grouped according to the available evidence base—from “substantiated” to “possibly effective.” Also included with these discussions are case vignettes that help illumine the process. A treatment plan is provided that includes a follow-up.

A third part of the book includes an appendix with tables listing assessment approaches and treatment approaches (also arranged by level of evidence base) for several core psychiatric symptoms. A second appendix provides extensive Internet resources. A very useful tool for those who are not computer-shy. A Web site has been developed to accompany the book (mostly for other clinicians). It includes updates on various approaches and is intended to be interactive. The book as well as the Web site includes, whenever possible, names and contact information of individuals who are currently engaged in various research projects that may be of interest to the readers. In other words, the door is not closed and this is still a work in progress. Perhaps there will be an updated edition in a few years. The Web site is located at

The organization of the book, according to therapeutic categories or symptom clusters, will probably appeal to clinicians. This arrangement makes the book more difficult to use as an occasional reference, say to look up the latest on omega-3 fatty acids in psychiatry. The index could have been more extensive. This would have made specific bits and pieces easier to find. With this in mind, I give this book a hearty recommendation for all clinicians, especially those whose primary commitment is to patients with mental health needs.

—Jerry Cott, PhD, Pharmacologist, Silver Spring, MD