Understanding is Happiness

A Case in Point by Nancy Gahles, DC, CCH, OIM

“The first Law of Understanding is that in general the same hopes, sorrows, joys,
troubles, fears, encompass us all. The same Destiny beckons us. The same Love
enfolds us. The same Justice educates us. “ ~George S. Arundale, Understanding is

A well-known axiom often used when describing policy work is that it is like “sausage
making,” a rather gruesome process. But policymaking is also relationship making.
Because the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) and the American Academy of
Medical Acupuncturists (AAMA), both IHPC Partners for Health, share the common
goals of supporting acupuncture as a part of the larger medical system, the two groups–
together with the IHPC–began a series of conversations this fall to see how they might
more formally work together.

Indeed, an overarching concern for appreciating the common humanity of us all and
working together to build relationships that make the world a better place was echoed
by both leaders of the acupuncture organizations. Olivia Hsu Friedman, DACM, LAc,
Chair, ASA, stated that “common mutuality arose from just talking, identifying objectives
and obstacles”. Freda L. Dreher, MD, FAAMA, President, AAMA, said that “it’s so easy
with Hsu Friedman; we were automatically in synch.” The discussions led to good faith
intentions for the two groups to work together and to a more formal Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU).

A memorandum of understanding is a formal agreement between two or more parties
that can be used to establish official relationships. MOU’s are not legally binding, but
they carry a degree of seriousness and mutual respect, stronger than an informal verbal
agreement or a “handshake.”

Both agreed that the timing was right for understanding and collaboration for the greater
good. Dreher explained that the MOU is a launching step: one that “takes us from a
place of good understanding to a formalized understanding.” She continued “We don’t
have to BE each other to respect each other.” Hsu Friedman commented, “As a whole,
the health care industry has to recognize that we all offer different things for the good of
the whole world.” Dreher enthusiastically explained that the AAMA will be making their
upcoming April symposium more international and inclusive: “to be together, convene,
allow ideas to bubble up…”

IHPC is proud of all that these two Partners for Health have achieved thus far and looks
forward to similar models of collaboration for advancement of integrative healthcare and
healthcare policy. The AAMA and ASA are proof that relationship building comes from
mutual respect and understanding and leads to advancement of the profession as a