5 tips for choosing alternative medicine / complementary therapy

Tip One – Educate yourself

Find out what your problem is and the options available for its treatment. Look for credible sources from which to get as much information as you can about your particular condition and the therapies that can help. In general terms, alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine and complementary therapy works alongside conventional medicine.

Good health care information is available from:

1. Your GP or healthcare provider
2. Your local trained and accredited complementary therapist
3. Health Organisations
4. Support groups
5. Professional alternative medicine and complementary healthcare associations
6. Alternative medicine and natural health websites (well established and credible ones)
7. The Library
8. Patients with the same condition
9. Family or friends who have the same problem

Once you’ve found and utilised any or all of the above sources, you should ask the following questions:

“For my condition, what are the best treatments available?”
“Have those treatments proven to be effective?”
“How can I ensure the information I’ve got is reliable?”

Using this strategy you can become better informed about your condition and treatment choices by arming yourself with accurate and reliable information. With so much information available today, patients are no longer bound by just one medical opinion and people can find the answers that best suit the individual’s and family’s needs. Learn all the options and boost your chances of receiving the best heath care results for you.

Tip Two – Get a good recommendation

When seeking a good alternative medicine practitioner or complementary therapist, a good referral or recommendation is the best way to ensure an effective selection.

Family and friends can be a good source of recommendations, but they may not provide the most suitable option for you. Use more than one source for a recommendation.

Here is a list of useful sources for getting a good recommendation:

  • Local alternative medicine practitioners or complementary therapist.
  • Support Groups (there are plenty available online or from your local GP).
  • Professional alternative medicine and complementary therapy associations.
  • Local natural health colleges or training centres.
  • Family, Friends, Colleagues.
  • Natural Health Products Shops (such as health-food shops).
  • Referral websites and services that advertise alternative medicine practitioners.

Obtain as much information from these sources about your particular problem as you can. If the information tends to repeat itself and comes from a reputable source you’ll be able to determine if it has possibilities for your condition.

When getting a referral, you’ll want to get as much information from your source as possible. Many times, with just a little extra information, you’ll know immediately whether this referral has possibility for you or not. For this reason it is important to know the right questions to ask.

Tip Three – Research your practitioner

Once you’ve found some suitable candidates to become your therapist, seek out information about who they are and how they work.

If the therapist belongs to a larger practice, you may be able to get a good picture of who they are by speaking to other members of staff or therapists that work alongside them. If they work alone, some well thought out questions can give you valuable information about expertise, education and professional associations they belong to.

Here are a few key questions to ask when researching a suitable candidate:

  1. Can you provide me with some information or literature about your educational training, professional membership and treatment philosophy?
  2. Is your practice covered by insurance?
  3. What successes have you had in treating conditions similar to mine?
  4. How long have you been practising your therapy?
  5. How much will the first session cost and what will be the cost of any follow up sessions?
  6. Do those fees cover any tests or supplements that I may require?

Using this information you can narrow down the list of suitable practitioners to ones that you would like to meet face-to-face And meeting your therapist is the next stage…

Tip Four – Meeting your therapist

Once you’ve narrowed down your search, it is advisable to arrange a meeting with a practitioner to make sure you can work with them to overcome your problem.

First impressions, instincts and the right questions will guide you to choosing the right therapist. Healthcare professionals have wide-ranging personalities and bedside manners so it’s important to feel comfortable with the way your therapist behaves and works. Only you can determine what type of personality will work best for you.

During your meeting, consider these points so you get the most out of your time with the therapist:

– Be polite and open when talking with the therapist
– Describe to the therapist what you already know about your condition
– Inform them of what you know about how to treat your problem
– Make your replies to their questions honest, even if you don’t agree with their recommendations
– Take notes if it will help you recall the information given later on
– Let your instincts as well as your intellect guide you

Occasionally, an initial meeting with an alternative medicine practitioner or complementary therapist may require you to pay a small fee. Don’t be put off by this, you’re making an investment in your health and that will require effort as well as money.

Tip Five – Developing a partnership

Alternative medicine and complementary therapy is a two-way form of healthcare. You will get out of it what you are prepared to put in so increase your healing potential by developing a good working relationship with your therapist.

The healing process will be a fluid one which means you should be prepared to make changes to the way your treatment progresses in response to results. For the best results you need to develop a relationship that is based on trust, respect, communication and commitment.

Your therapist will ask certain things of you during your healing process and you should be ready to act on those instructions. Bear in mind that your partnership is for the benefit of your health and that is your main objective. Be open and honest but be prepared to be guided by your therapist’s expertise.

Article submitted by
Daniel James Alexander, GoToSee Journalist

Date published
10/12/08

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