Looking for a holistic or complementary health practitioner? If so, you’ll want to ask the right questions to make sure you’re hiring a safe and ethical professional. This post outlines some questions to ask as you begin your search.
These questions are based on my own personal experience as a healthcare consumer and a holistic health practitioner. I’ve also included the six tips for seeking holistic health practitioners recommended by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NICCH).
Is the Treatment Active or Passive?
Think about the type of treatment you’re seeking. Is it an active form of treatment, like yoga, where you must learn skills and take action yourself? Or is it a passive type of treatment, like massage, where the skills are applied by a professional in a treatment setting? Will your treatments require regular appointments with the practitioner?
If the treatment is active and self-directed, will your practitioner be able to provide you with direction, guidance, and support between appointments? If the treatment is passive, how often will you need to make appointments in order to realize results?
What Are Your Goals and Expectations?
Be clear about your goals and expectations for the treatment. How do you anticipate the holistic approach will fit in with any existing medical treatments you’re already undergoing? Ask yourself: Are my goals and expectations realistic? How much time, money, and effort am I willing to invest in the treatment? What training has the provider received? What licenses and certifications does the provider currently hold? What personal or published recommendations are available from other satisfied patients/clients/customers?
What Are the Practitioner’s Credentials?
Your practitioner’s credentials are proof of their education and training. The string of letters behind their name tells you what academic degrees, professional licenses, and certifications they have earned. Of course it’s always helpful to know what the letters stand for. So if you don’t recognized them right away, be sure to ask.
Credentials prove a practitioner has received a certain type or level of education and mastered a particular body of knowledge. Academic degrees are awarded by educational institutions. Credentialed education programs are regularly evaluated by a 3rd party against a defined set of standards. Licenses indicate a practitioner is allowed by a government agency to legally practice a set of skills within in a certain location. While certificates are not the same as licenses, both may require a form of continuing education within a specialized area of practice.
Most credentials outside of academic degrees require some form of continuing education for the practitioner to maintain the credential over time. While continuing education ensures that your practitioner’s knowledge is up-to-date, it’s also makes professional licenses and credentials expensive to maintain over time.
Is The Practitioner Right For You?
Some, but not, all credentials for holistic or complementary health practices are recognized by the mainstream medical community. This may or may not be meaningful to you. Some obscure or culturally based practices may not be credentialed in any way. When considering practitioners of these types of practices, set criteria for your search, such as level of experience, proximity, or reputation, and whether or not you resonate with the individual practitioner and their practices. Ultimately, you must be the judge of what is right for you.
Try out any new-to-you holistic or complementary health practitioner you’re considering working with, and see how you like their work. Be willing to experiment. Trust your instincts. If you think the method or practice has the potential to help you, but you don’t like the individual practitioner’s style or manner, seek another. Remember that not all providers will practice a method with equal skill, so you may need to hunt around until you find a practitioner who meets your needs and preferences. The important thing is, don’t give up.
6 Selection Tips
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NICCH) offers 6 tips for selecting a reliable holistic or complementary health practitioner, which I have paraphrased for you below.
- Get recommendations. When seeking a complementary health practitioner, start with recommendations from people you know and trust. Ask your doctor or other health care provider for recommendations of qualified providers. If your doctor doesn’t know of any, check national professional associations, educational programs for the type of treatment you are seeking, and local directories and resources.
- Do some sleuthing. Once you have a list of likely candidates, and before making an appointment, find out as much as you can about the provider’s education, training, licensing and certifications. Use the practitioner’s web site and other resources to find out as much as you can, and ask about the provider’s credentials when you make the appointment.
- Ask about medical integration. When making your first appointment, or as part of your first appointment, be sure to ask the holistic practitioner how they can work with your conventional health care providers. This may or may not matter, but it can help you ask better health questions for yourself and facilitate the exchange of relevant information and medical records.
- Offer a thorough health history. No matter what type of treatment your practitioner practices, be sure you explain all of your health conditions, including old injuries, long-ago surgeries, and even childhood traumas to the practitioner. Holistic or complementary health practitioners will appreciate this, because in their way of thinking, everything is related.
- Ask about insurance coverage. Ask your health insurance provider what portion, if any, of the complementary services may be covered. Do not automatically assume your health insurance will cover complementary health services (they likely won’t). Medical savings account dollars may or may not be applicable. Good health requires investment, so if the services work for you,
- Be transparent. While most holistic and complementary techniques work very well alongside traditional medical interventions, that’s not always the case. Be sure to tell your healthcare providers, including primary care providers and medical specialists about the holistic or complementary approaches you use.
The bottom line is this: When you’re seeking a holistic practitioner, asking the right questions will help you identify and select the right provider for you.Looking for a holistic practitioner? Ask the right questions to find the right provider for you.Click To Tweet
What resources and/or criteria have you used to find a good holistic practitioner?
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Last updated: 4-29-19