California Holistic New Age Healing Center

English-Lueck (1990) conducted an ethnography of the holistic health/New Age movement in Paraiso (pseudonym), a California community consisting largely of white upper-middle- and upper-class residents. Despite its relative ethnic homogeneity, Paraiso's residents adhered to a variety of lifestyles. These included millionaires, university students, and members of unconventional congregations, such as the Unitarian Universalist Church, the Unity School of Christianity, and the Church of Religious Science. Paraiso has numerous self-help groups, 36 schools that offer workshops and lectures on alternative medicine, and three schools that offer training in various alternative therapies, including massage, acupuncture, and hypnosis. The local community college, the university extension program, the YMCA, herbal stores, a Taoist sanctuary, and a Yogic Institute/ashram also offer workshops on alternative therapies.

Of the estimated 790-830 alternative practitioners in the Paraiso area, only 253 practice publicly. Many certified practitioners do not advertise, preferring to treat clients belonging to small, intimate networks in order to avoid legal prosecution. Alternative practitioners often exhibit therapeutic eclecticism and combine different therapies depending upon the needs and desires of their clients. Bodyworkers incorporate massage, yoga, Alexander technique, reflexology, and zone therapy. In its diversity of practitioners, Paraiso constitutes a microcosm of the holistic health movement.

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