Successful holistic treatment does not happen by accident. Careful research and planning will help increase your chances of getting effective treatment for you at a price you can afford. Taking the time to talk to a potential holistic health practitioner is a part of the process and is a wise investment of your time, especially when you consider that the treatment you receive could be a major and costly purchase as well as have a significant impact on your health and your life for months and even years to come.
Over the course of my career, I have spoken to numerous holistic health practitioners and clients regarding their interest in alternative medicine. Frequently, they have expressed a dissatisfaction with existing traditional health care or a desire to explore other options and obtain a second opinion in cases of catastrophic or chronic illnesses. Many times, their interests also stem from a desire to lead a healthier lifestyle or a commitment to Wellness, including the use of more natural methods of pain relief or stress management.
When seeking a holistic practitioner, it is very important that you understand just what this person can offer you so that your have realistic expectations. Whether or not this person provides specific services such as, for example, acupressure or reflexology, or is an individual such as a nurse, dentist, counselor or other health professional who adheres to holistic philosophies, what sets his or her services apart from the traditional ones is the emphasize on care and treatment of the whole person, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects that contribute to balance and harmony in the body. Additionally, natural and drug free methods of treatment are generally promoted as well.
However, just as in any other industry, not all holistic health practitioners employ the same methods, adhere to the same standards, or obtain the same quality of results. Here are some questions and tips for discussing your needs and goals with a health practitioner before beginning treatment.:
#1. Ask the practitioner about the results he or she has obtained that directly relate to the kind of treatment outcome you are looking for. This is critical since a degree or certificate of advanced training, while extremely important, does not guarantee, on its own merit, that the expert can indeed produce what you are looking for.
#2. Inquire into the length of time the holistic health practitioner has been providing the type of treatment you are looking for. In some cases, for example, he or she may have been in business for a long time but only recently provided the specific type of treatment you are looking for.
#3. Inquire into associations as well as training he or she has received in order to provide treatment. What professional organizations does the practitioner belong to? What type of training has he or she had in order to provide the service you desire? If the training has been some years ago, does the practitioner show a record of updated trainings?
#4. Ask for references. Inform the holistic health practitioner that you would like to speak to some previous or current customers, if possible. See what kind of reaction you get. If the individual is somewhat resistant or tells you that they will provide you with the information shortly, be sure to continue your requests until you obtain references. Reputable professionals will have no problem providing this information to you and generally expect requests for it.
#5. Ask about any assessments the practitioner will make to assist you. Will you be tested prior to treatment, and in what way? How will your progress be assessed?
#6. What type of methods will be used? You will want to have some understanding of what methods the practitioner will use. You will also want to know what type of equipment, if any, might be used, even if the practitioner must wait until the assessment is made before determining a specific treatment model.
#7. How much flexibility does the practitioner have with regard to both treatment and scheduling? For example, how rigid or demanding is the treatment schedule? Are his or her hours of operation convenient for you? What are the policies regarding if you cannot make an appointment and need to schedule?
#8. Inquire into how much input you will have in your treatment. Will you be able to make decisions throughout the process? To what extent will you be updated on progress? Do not assume the practitioner will automatically involve you at every step of your treatment .
#9. Inquire into how much responsibility for your care you will be given. Good practitioners realize the importance of self-care, what you can do to maintain your progress when you leave treatment and are at home, and provide guidelines and resources to help you protect your investment.
#10. Ask for details of cost of your treatment. If you like what you are hearing about treatment, you want to be certain you can afford it in the long run. Besides the obvious costs the practitioner can tell you about, are there any other costs that might be involved? You don't want to find out later that there are hidden costs you were not aware of, to either continue treatments or to maintain the results afterward. Also, despite even the best treatment, some times the unexpected can happen. If you should discover at some point during treatment that the method is not working for you, can you withdraw from the program or will you still be liable for all or certain costs?
The list of inquiries above will help you determine if the practitioner and treatment services offered are right for you. Depending on your own situation and needs, you may not need to inquire into every one of them, but you will benefit by spending time talking to a potential practitioner in order to plan for your success. Furthermore, once you have interviewed the practitioner, you will want to do some research on the information you obtained. You will also want to contact the references provided and ask these individuals about their experiences. Additionally, you will want to check the practitioner's associations and training sources as well as the Better Business Bureau and other business and industry sources, as appropriate. Finally, be sure you feel confident in your choice before you start treatment and that you understand any written agreements you sign. While there are no guarantees of success in life, researching and planning as carefully and realistically as possible can significantly increase your chances for successful outcomes in whatever you decide to do.