San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Roberts-Strachan Institute Promotes Concept of Integral or Holistic Health

THE average visit to a doctor’s officeinvolves checking on physical conditionssuch as blood pressure and temperature, aswell as examination of the heart, lungs,eyes, ears and other vital organs.Hospital visits are even more intense asmedical practitioners work to cure physicalailments, provide treatment for heartattacks or operate on organs or parts of thebody affected by cancer, trauma or otherproblems.Now, however, some doctors and communityactivists are seeking to expandhealth care from just concern with thephysical to include mental, social, environmentaland spiritual aspects as well.“INTEGRAL or holistic health is aneffort to cover the entire context of humanlife as God has given it to us,” said W.Dayton Roberts, a retired missionary wholives in the San José area. “We are eachexpected to live out our existence on thisplanet in a context that includes five areas:the body, mind, spirit or soul, personalrelationships and the environment.”To help focus public attention on amore holistic approach to health care, agroup of Roberts’ extended family hasformed the Roberts-Strachan Institute ofIntegral (Holistic) Health (ISIRS). Thepurpose of the organization is to promotethe concept of holistic health and to helphealth-care providers and other segmentsof the community recognize the importanceof integrating these broader conceptsinto medical care.“The different areas of life are interdependent,”explained Bary Roberts,Dayton’s son and a member of the foundation’sboard. “Our cultural process leads usto make each of them independent.”“THE psychiatrist is better than thesimple doctor of medicine for the body,”Dayton said. “The Christian doctor is betterthan one who overlooks the spiritualside of things. People need a pastor orcounselor as often as or more than they dojust a medic. Hence, our need for socialservices.”“Everything we need for living comesto us through the environment, the air,water, food and energy,” he added. “Goodhealth involves all of these areas and mustbe measured in each and all.”THE foundation’s objective for thisyear is to promote the concept of holistichealth in Costa Rica through various publicationsand sponsorship of related activities.“We are preparing educational materialsthat will be used in public and privateschools and in churches,” Bary explained.“We are developing a curriculum for use inClínica Bíblica to help train their personnel.”Working with Clínica Bíblica, a privateclinic in San José, the foundation wants tohelp coordinate projects that will raise consciousnessconcerning these issues anddevelop programs to help integrate the variousdisciplines.Bary said the foundation is working tobegin a recycling project that would be awin-win situation for industries that producedisposable products, governmentagencies that deal with trash collection,and the community, which will be a muchcleaner place to live and work.Projects in the coming years willinclude establishing links between organizationsand people who have ministries inthe area of holistic health in 2006, investigatingand analyzing holistic health needsand looking for innovative solutions in2007, and sponsoring projects designed toimprove holistic health starting in 2008.PHYSICIANS need to take a multidisciplinaryapproach to treating illness,explained Dr. Jorge Cortés, medical directorof Clínica Bíblica and a member of thefoundation’s board of directors.“In the hospital, we are trying to focusnot just on the biological aspect but on anintegrated concept of health care. There arepsychological, social, spiritual and materialissues for human beings,” he said.Cortés said doctors need to cover manytopics in medical schools, and there is onlyso much time; thus, they often focus onlyon the physical, medical dynamics withoutconsidering other disciplines.He explained that many doctors atClínica Bíblica come from Christian rootsand are more open to the spiritual, socialand emotional aspects of healing. He praised doctors who offer to pray with theirpatients, though he cautioned that all doctorsneed to be sensitive to the religiousorientations of their charges and not forcetheir views on them.Cortés said the hospital promotes theholistic concept in regular meetings withits staff.THE founders of the foundation aredescendents of Harry and Susan Strachan,who established Clínica Bíblica in SanJosé. Also founders of the Latin AmericaMission, the Strachans established theRoblealto Child Care Association in SanJosé and the Faro del Caribe radio station,among other organizations in Costa Rica.Dayton, who married into the Strachanfamily, participated in many activities duringhis missionary career here, includingfounding the Editoral Caribe publishinghouse, serving as rector of the old LatinAmerican Biblical Seminary and servingwith Faro del Caribe. He has written severalbooks flowing from his longstandinginterest in environmental issues and theresponsibility of churches to be involvedwith these problems.For more information, call the instituteat 256-5440 or e-mail

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