All-Encompassing Healing: Choosing a Holistic Doctor

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When it comes to health, the practice of holistic medicine is becoming more popular in every medical discipline, from pediatrics to geriatrics. Although holistic medicine has been practiced since the beginning of time, only in the last several years has it started getting so much attention.

Holistic medicine involves healing the whole person: body, mind, spirit and emotions. The holistic medicine philosophy centers on obtaining optimal health by promoting overall body wellness, gaining proper balance in life and empowering a person to take their wellbeing into their own hands.

People are visiting holistic health practitioners to help them cope with stress and busy lives as well as chronic pain and disease. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine recently reported that approximately 38 percent of adults in the United States are using some form of mind-body therapy.

There are several types of mind-body therapies, including meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga, tai chi, creative visualization, hypnosis, guided imagery and art therapy. One of the most accepted and practiced forms of alternative therapy is Reiki, which works in conjunction with regular medical or psychological treatment. Reiki is often used with cancer patients and is based on the idea that the practitioner can encourage the flow and free circulation of the client’s own spiritual energy through touch.

During a Reiki session, the practitioner touches the patient lightly with both hands on a series of locations on the body and head. Reiki sessions typically last for approximately one hour and use no equipment. For cancer patients, Reiki may be able to help reduce pain and some of the symptoms patients commonly experience during cancer treatment, such as nausea, anxiety and fatigue. Reiki may also improve a patient’s emotional health, which often helps them adhere to and comply with physician’s instructions and follow treatment protocols.

Finding the right holistic practitioner can be challenging. Consider selecting someone who will be a part of your team to support you in your quest for optimal health in body, mind, emotions and spirit. A doctor’s interests and practices may vary widely, so seek out someone who falls in line with your ideals. For instance, one holistic practitioner may work mainly with nutrition and herbs while another might deal with the spiritual side of health and disease. Holistic medicine has varied practices, so choose a doctor that has philosophies similar to yours and who uses the treatment modalities you are seeking.

Growing research suggests that people who have a strong relationship with their physician not only report greater satisfaction with their care, but also reap better health. Finding the best holistic practitioner for you is much like choosing any other doctor. You want to feel comfortable with him or her while being able to trust their care and judgment. Some other basic questions may help you start your holistic health journey on the right path.

What do others say?
What do friends and other professionals say about this person? Find out as much as you can about any potential practitioner, including education, training, licensing and certifications. Qualifications vary widely from state to state and from discipline to discipline.

How healthy are they?
What is the state of this practitioner’s health? Does he appear to have a healthy lifestyle or is he overweight and smoking? You can’t be fully committed to overall wellbeing if you are being led by someone who isn’t healthy.

Does your doctor respect you?
When you talk to your doctor, do you feel that your thoughts and opinions are valued? Does she explain various treatment options or does your practitioner tell you what is going to happen? Make note of how accessible your practitioner is, how long it takes to get a response from his office, and if you feel your doctor is trustworthy and confidential. Healing is heightened by a healthy relationship between patient and practitioner.

What happens after you are diagnosed?
If your practitioner diagnoses you with something, how is it handled after this point? Are you allowed time to research and collect the educational and personal resources that you need to make a well-informed decision? Are you notified of test results within a reasonable period of time? Are follow-up visits scheduled after treatment? Is there discussion of future health goals and not just the immediate matter at hand?

What happens if there are bumps in the road?
Can the practitioner approach your care with an open mind rather than with a predetermined treatment plan? Would she recommend to a member of her own family the same carefully chosen advice that she has offered to you?
In our busy, often stressful lives, many of us have started to look for balance and healing. Long before Western medicine was abundant, holistic health healers were encouraging whole body wellness. Today’s holistic health practitioners follow in the footsteps of those ancient healers and are in greater demand than ever before. ■

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