As our health care system undergoes these fundamental shifts, too many times the patient is lost without the proper resources to understand who can legitimately help and who is the charlatan. With hundreds of different approaches out there, how can anyone make an intelligent choice about healers? Do I see a medical doctor that is beginning to offer alternative therapies, or should I go with the advice of friends and family? Here are some questions that will help you make the smarter choice.
1. Does the healer have good credentials? This should always be your first question. Many times you can find out with just a phone call. Ask about professional degrees, training, certification, licensure, membership in professional organizations and affiliations with reputable clinics or doctors. If licensure for a particular form of healing has not yet been established in your state, look for healers/practioners that served apprenticeships of a year or more, or attended well known schools in their field.
Do keep in mind that as the field of alternative therapies grows, that just because someone has MD, Phd or other unrelated degrees behind their name, does not make them an expert in another area. A few weekend courses, audiotapes, or home study course will not give them a sophisticated understanding of someone who has spent years in the field.
2. How much experience do they have? Have they treated individuals with problems like yours? The alternative/holistic practioner draws heavily from their years of experience.
3. Does the healer have insurance? Everyone from yoga teachers, to massage therapists, to acupuncturists need to have malpractice insurance.This is an important clue. Someone who is not appropriatelytrained will have a great deal of trouble getting any insurance company to underwrite them.
4. Is he or she open to other healing systems including traditional systems? The more complex your health problem, the more multidimensional your approach should be. Health does not come from one thing. Be wary of anyone who categorically dismisses other approaches or ridicules conventional medicine. This person will limit your ability to be well by their narrow minded approach!
5. Does the healer know when to refer you to your medical doctor? For all its short comings, there are areas where traditional medicine shines. If the person you are working with cannot recognize more serious health problems such as deep bacterial infections, injuries or other worrisome symptoms they are not equipped to handle, you or your family member maybe at great risk. If you have a bleeding ulcer, or acute appendicitis you may very well need what we used to refer to as the ''BardParker scan.'' (Bard-Parker, the largest supplier of disposable scalpels.)
6. Is the more holistic approach truly being applied? The relationship between you and your holistic practioner, massage therapist, or acupuncturist, and their ability to ''treat the whole'' is why this approach works. If you feel rushed, talked down to or coerced in any way they've missed holism''101,'' and you need to find someone else.
7. Did they make you an active participant in your own care? Back to holism''101.'' Health in holism is a verb, not a noun! If you are not given the responsibility with choices for your own health care you cannot be truly healthy.
8. Does the practioner have an agenda? If the individual you are working with oversells a program of herbs, diet or supplements without taking into consideration your individual problems, it may be more about your money than your health.
9. Did they provide you with current literature supporting their claims? Is their scientific evidence, or is it only anecdotal evidence? Now, there's nothing wrong with the later as long as it isn't harmful. Remember our government, mainly the FDA, or the powerful AMA would say there is no scientific evidence that healing systems such as Ayurveda and acupuncture that have been around for centuries is NOT harmful. Once again how knowledgeable and skilled is the practioner?
10. Is the healer willing to admit they don't know? The beginning of knowledge is defined as the more you know, the more you know you don't know. Arrogance will only serve to set you back a little further in your healing journey.
Healing is a service profession. When you find an individual that understands this concept, one that you like and has been trained and, you are comfortable with that particular modality of healing you're well on your way!
Till next time, Rebecca.