I won’t claim to have written this but it’s a good review of how to start a good relationship with a practitioner who is trying to bridge two very different approaches to medicine.
Clients are coming in from an insurance model and often feel things should be paid for because they pay huge price for the insurance. Insurance is a calculated, disaster-waiting policy of care and pathology managing industry. What clients really don’t understand is that in the average visit (8 minutes in Florida), where they can talk to the practitioners they are seeing, little can be done except prescribe a medication or tell them they are “within normal limits” for their labs and that their symptoms aren’t a result of an imbalance on their lab work. This is the current insurance model. This frustration and anger is what usually walks in the door to most integrative practitioner’s offices.
The other issue (speaking to the diversity of answers people get in integrative/functional medicine) is that we as practitioners all took the workshops, the trainings, the conferences, but what we all came out with and integrated into our practices will be different and not as cut-and-dried as conventional medicine is. We are personalizing medicine and not what is generally true for the herd. We all have comfort zones and different interests and approaches within the field. Asking more questions before you come in to see us to see if we are a good fit for you is important. Check to see if the information is available on the practitioner’s website or talk to their front desk intake staff or the practitioner if you have questions. However, understand we can’t tell you exactly what we are going to do UNTIL we meet with you because it IS personalized medicine, so we can talk generalities about what we do and how we have done it in similar situations.
Conventional medicine is a machine model
This next piece by Depak Chopra is brilliant in explaining how we as practitoners were all taught in our earlier education before we went integrative:
“This is how young med students are taught to look at the human body:
The body is a machine assembled from moving parts and like all machines it will wear down with time
The body is at constant risk for contamination and disease: a hostile environment teeming with invading germs and viruses waiting to overwhelm and invade the body’s immune defenses
Cells and organs are separate from each other and should be studied separately
Random chemical reactions determine everything that happens in the body
The brain creates the mind through a storm of electrical impulses, combined with biochemical responses that can be manipulated to alter the mind
How We Create Our Life and Health: We are not machines.
Every skill you learn creates a new neural network in your brain.
Every new thought creates a unique pattern of brain activity.
Any change in mood is conveyed via” messenger molecules” to every part of the body, altering the basic chemical activity of each individual cell in your body.
Every time you exercise, you alter your skeleton and muscles.
Every bite of food you eat alters your daily metabolism, electrolyte balance, and the proportion of fat to muscle.
Your sexual activity and the decision to reproduce affects your hormonal balance
The stress level to which you subject yourself raises and lowers your immune system.
Every hour of total inactivity creates muscle atrophy.
Your genes tune into your thoughts and emotions, and in mysterious ways, they switch on and off according to your desires.
Your immune system gets stronger or weaker in response to being in a loving or unloving relationship.
Crises of grief, loss, and loneliness increase the risk of disease and shortened lifespan.
Using your mind keeps your brain young: not using your brain leads to its decline.
Excerpt from Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul by Deepak Chopra
For me this is the crux of how I try to help people see themselves and others, to take personal responsibility with the help of someone to facilitate their learning, to open to all the possibilities there are to heal problems to best outcome possible. There is not always a cure but there may be ways of healing the problems at a level that allows for a more graceful, peaceful, and hopeful life.
How to Be a Successful Client
Being a successful client is essential to any successful treatment, especially integrative treatment. Often, people seeking integrative care arrive at a practitioner’s or therapist’s office fed up with conventional treatment and confused by the lack of permanent healing, yet newly expectant of receiving quick answers and recovery. It helps if the individual understands how the two approaches differ and can even complement one another.
With conventional medical care, doctors focus on identifying the disease that is creating the symptoms affecting the patient. The goal is to halt the progression of the disease and/or sustain life. Integrative practitioners’ goal is a patient’s overall wellness and improved quality of life. They focus on uncovering and alleviating any imbalances that are robbing the individual of their quality of life. An integrative practitioner and client are a team with a mutual mission. This means they can expect to spend time together completing and evaluating detailed medical histories and lifestyle information sheets, consulting and sharing observations, collaborating in carrying out treatment and cooperating in initial and follow-up examinations. The personal patient/client relationship is generally more intensive than experienced with conventional services.
As with any field, it is important to check a practitioner’s credentials and educational background to ensure that he or she is qualified. It’s also vital that each service provider be a good fit for a patient’s needs, personality and circumstances.
So much information is available today via the Internet that figuring out the best combination of treatment options can be overwhelming and confusing. Informed, friendly collaboration between practitioner and patient produces the best results in restoring and even expanding overall quality of life. Here are some tips on how patients can serve their own best interests.
Take responsibility. Play an active role in improving your own health. Become knowledgeable about options presented by a trusted practitioner. Taking action in spite of possible fears gives you some sense of control.
Partner with your practitioner
Offer regular, precise, and accurate reports on your treatment’s progress. With integrative care, treatment is highly individualized and requires ongoing monitoring and adjustment to discern what is working and what isn’t. Follow and continue treatment as advised and exercise patience and compassion for yourself and your treatment team.
Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, sleep until rested, and regularly engage in suitable physical activity and gentle exercise. Contact the office when there are immediate health concerns.
Stick with it
Expect incremental progress, even in the face of setbacks. Visualize an optimum state of wellness for yourself. Past failures do not need to be repeated when you work in tandem with your practitioner partner(s). Watch for relief, then acknowledge and nurture it by being a good patient. Share all good news with your practitioner.
Don’t own the disease
Avoid scary labels and lists of symptoms in discussions with yourself and others. You want them to visualize health right along with you. Maintain a healthier lifestyle. Returning to old habits may cause problems to return. Make health a priority in daily choices. Treat your practitioner with respect. Caring integrative practitioners are ready and willing to walk with you on your path of healing. Forego rants about past bad experiences and direct any complaints about lack of coverage for integrative treatment toward the insurance companies.
Remember, your success is also your practitioners’ success, and they are invested in answering your questions and earning your trust. Help them help you. Finally, let them know when they’re doing a good job; a little appreciation goes a long way during a day of caretaking.
Treat your practitioner with respect
Caring integrative practitioners are ready and willing to walk with you on your path of healing. Forego rants about past bad experiences and direct any complaints about lack of coverage for integrative treatment toward the insurance companies.
Remember, your success is also your practitioners’ success, and they are invested in answering your questions and earning your trust. Help them help you. Finally, let them know when they’re doing a good job; a little appreciation goes a long way during a day of supporting clients.