Expert Profile - James Lake
Dr. James Lake
MD, Integrative Psychiatrist & Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at University of Arizona School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. Author and editor of numerous books, textbooks, and journals on complementary, alternative, and integrative health care. Author of The Integrative Mental Health Solution, Lake, J., a series of 10 self-published e-books 2015 http://
Dr. Lake founded and chaired the American Psychiatric Association’s Caucus on Complementary, Alternative and Integrative Medicine from 2004 through 2010 and is a founding member and former chair of the International Network of Integrative Mental Health.
Dr. James Lake’s Bio:
Dr. Lake is a Board-certified psychiatrist who practices on the central California coast. He has chaired symposia and workshops at APA meetings and other national and international conferences on complementary, alternative and integrative mental health care. Dr. Lake has served as a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Stanford, and is currently a clinical assistant professor of medicine at University of Arizona School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Lake founded and chaired the American Psychiatric Association’s Caucus on Complementary, Alternative and Integrative Medicine from 2004 through 2010 and is a founding member and former chair of the International Network of Integrative Mental Health. Dr. Lake completed an intensive course in medical acupuncture and is a beginning student of Tibetan medicine.
Dr. Lake has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and chapters on integrative medicine and psychiatry, contributes a regular column on integrative mental health care to Psychiatric Times, and serves on the editorial review boards of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Journal of the Association for Advances in Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology, and Jour of Clinical Psychiatry. Dr. Lake is the author or editor of: Chinese Medical Psychiatry: A Clinical Manual, (with Bob Flaws), Blue Poppy Press, 2000; Textbook of Integrative Mental Health Care, Thieme, 2006; and Complementary and Alternative Treatments in Mental Health Care (co-edited with David Spiegel), American Psychiatric Press, 2007, and Integrative Mental Health Care: A Therapist’s Handbook, Norton, 2009, and An Integrative Paradigm for Mental Health Care: Ideas and Methods Shaping the Future, Springer, 2019. Dr. Lake has self-published a series of 10 books offered as concise guides on the integrative management of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, substance abuse and other mental health problems. You can find out more about the books at http://
What life events or challenges that you’ve experienced (could be minor, could be major) – whether you’ve experienced them directly or via someone close to you, have had any type of impact on your desire to pursue a career in psychiatry?
Starting in childhood I’ve always been interested in human behavior and the ways people in different cultures achieve wellness and respond to stress. I came of age in rural Ohio and West Virginia in the 60s and early 70s and found respite from family problems in nature. My background and curiosity about human nature eventually led to medical school and to psychiatry.
How did those events impact you emotionally/morally? How, if at all did those events impact the way you view how our current system teaches us to treat patients with mental health challenges?
Long before starting medical school, it was very clear that people receive health and mental health care not in relationship to need, but in relationship to socioeconomic status. This awareness led to a career focused on working with people from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
When and why did you decide to actually focus on practicing Integrative Psychiatry, specifically, and how was your decision shaped by the experiences above?
I started to question and doubt both the paradigm and practices of conventional psychiatry when still in medical school. By the end of residency training it was clear that available conventional treatments are limited in efficacy. This led me to explore other healing traditions including herbal medicine and Chinese medicine.
What methods or practices do you utilize to help individuals get/feel better?
I think the single most important ‘technique’ I use to help clients feel and function better is active listening. I work with each client to learn about their unique backgrounds and invite conversation about a variety of conventional and alternative treatments that may be appropriate based on research evidence and each client’s preferences.
How did people react when you share this Integrative/Holistic approach with them – whether it be patients or other doctors?
Most patients are surprised and pleased to find out that there are treatment options other than pharmaceuticals. Some psychiatrists and other conventionally trained mental health care providers are open to alternative and integrative approaches, while others are very skeptical and hesitant to try new approaches.
Dr. James Lake is not accepting new patients at this time, but tune back in for updates.