A Person-Centered Approach to Health & Healing

Rachel Foote - Portrait of smiling Caucasian woman sitting next to a lake. By Rachel Foote
Sonoran UCEDD Trainee 2019-2020
Undergraduate Certificate in DD

I am so thankful for my internship with an organization called Integrative Touch for Kids, as it has entirely changed my outlook on healthcare and wellness. I was anticipating this internship as an opportunity for me to give back my time and effort to the Tucson community, which has been my home for the past four years as I have been a student at the UA. I never expected that I would be the one reaping the benefits of Integrative medicine, and having my life changed by the folks of ITK and the patients and families that I encountered.

Integrative Touch for Kids (ITK) is a nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Arizona. The founder of ITK, Shay Beider, pioneered a new therapy known as Integrative Touch. Providing integrative healing therapies such as massage, reflexology, energy, equine, play and music therapies through their many programs, ITK is able to work in the hospital and in the community to change the way people view healthcare. ITK supports families whose children have any type of special health or medical need. This includes kids with cancers, genetic conditions, autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic stress, and other serious health issues. ITK engages communities in support of families struggling with special medical needs, improving the quality of life for all.

Adult Caucasian woman interacting with a young Caucasian boy in a medical setting.

As an intern for ITK, I was given the ability to work in the hospital and at the ITK office. ITK is based out of the University Medical Center Tucson-Banner, in the Diamond Children’s Tower. I served as the program evaluator, which entailed collecting consent forms from patients and families; recording all interactions made between ITK team members and patients, families, and Banner staff; and measuring pre- and post- session outcomes after each treatment. In the hospital, I was able to work with families of all different demographic and socioeconomic backgrounds and a variety of healthcare workers. As an intern in the ITK office, my tasks looked a little bit different, and I spent more time with the ITK volunteers in Tucson. I was invited to be a part of the launching for ITK’s first ever podcast called Conversations On Healing. The vision behind Conversations On Healing, is to hear stories and opinions from healers and healthcare professionals around the nation. ITK wants to share stories from experienced practitioners and explore the unknown in the world of healing. I worked side-by-side with executive director, Shay, as we invited bright and creative individuals from all over the country, set up interview dates, created the audio/graphics and fully prep the series to launch in the Spring of 2020. This has definitely brought about a more creative side for me!

ITK’s mission is to change the way people experience health and healing through a Whole Child, Whole Family, Whole Community wellness model. The goal of each session for ITK is to focus on the individual and their needs, also known as a person-centered approach. This is such a refreshing view on healthcare, as many times a holistic approach is not always prioritized. As I have viewed many sessions with ITK in the hospital and in the community, I noticed that although these patients may have family members in the rooms with them, their voices are heard over everyone else’s. It is so crucial to recognize, as a future healthcare worker myself, the importance of taking time to ask the patient questions (when appropriate), before looking to the parent or caregiver. This instills confidence in the patient while also allowing them to practice self-advocacy. It is so important to empower families and children, and let them know that they are doing the best they can!

To learn more about ITK, visit their website at https://www.integrativetouch.org

The Sonoran UCEDD does not endorse any particular service providers. 

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