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I can't help but wonder if there is room for a voice from the spa industry (full disclosure: my industry) in these discussions. The spa industry often does not get considered in these kinds of conversations, and in some ways we are our own worst enemies. We have a bad reputation for being unscientific, focusing on the superficial in beauty and medical spas, and being elitist in our pricing and marketing. But the core and roots of the spa world is about positive and holistic wellness. The spa might be the only healing institution in today's society that people actually look forward to going to. The spa industry has experience in a way that healthcare does not in treating healthy populations, focusing on prevention over treatment, and making people feel good while making them feel well.
By the way, as much as I would like to be that voice in the room and help to bring the contribution that I think my industry could have, I realize there are others who may be even more qualified. For example, Richard Carmona, former Surgeon General and Vice Chairman of Canyon Ranch Resorts and Spas, or Dr. Mark Liponis, who is the medical director for Canyon Ranch. Dr. Brent Bauer is the Director of Complementary and Integrative Medicine for the Mayo Clinic and serves as medical advisor to the International Spa Association. Or maybe some of the founders of the modern spa industry, such as Deborah Szekely of Golden Door and Rancho La Puerta who has been talking about positive health for over 50 years, or Sheila Cluff of the Oaks at Ojai who has been living and teaching the benefits of a spa lifestyle for her entire life, and is still figure skating at almost 75 years old! Or there is psychologist Nina Smiley PhD, who founded Mohonk Mountain House and teaches meditation techniques to her guests for stress relief, weight loss and general health. Or Dr. Jen Seda, spa and medical consultant and co-author of "Happiness & Health", who has begun doing research on the health benefits of spa experiences. Honestly, the list could go on and on.
I realize only a small group can be selected to work on this particular project around positive health, and from what I have heard, the talents and experience around the table are already extremely impressive. I only ask the question to plant a seed of recognition that we are experiencing a "spa-ification" of health care, even if we don't see it as such. Hospitals, clinics, and doctors offices are beginning to look more like spas, in large part because doctors are realizing that how an intervention is delivered has an impact on its effectiveness. How the patient feels (emotionally) has an impact. The setting has an impact. The demeanor of the provider has an impact.
It is easy to dismiss (or even criticize) the spa industry for being less than scientific. But I find it interesting that the science seems to be catching up with the spa industry, and not the other way around.
p.s. I'll be posting this on my blog tomorrow morning at http://psychologyofwellbeing.com.
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