Speaking Point: For most of us, choosing a complementary alternative health (CAM) practitioner can be daunting. Not only do we usually know nothing about the therapy offered but we know even less about the practitioner. Choosing a CAM practitioner is easier than you may think…a lot easier than choosing a Western medical doctor.
CAM is different from Western medicine in that it is totally tailored to the individual. A particular treatment might have done wonders for your friend’s back pain but not work on yours. CAM takes into account the whole person (body, mind, spirit) and the cause of your back pain could be completely different than someone else’s. Healing is often about becoming active in your healing process and having a practitioner to work with who needs to tune into you as a whole person. It s
Speaking Point: Referrals – The most powerful and trusted referral you can get is from a friend but don’t just stop there. Ask your friend about their experiences with this practitioner they are referring; what they went in for, what their experience was like, etc. If your friend doesn’t mind, ask them to tell you about their entire experience from first contact with the practitioner to walking through the door. What was the practitioner’s personality like, their office, their staff (if any), etc. Ask them to describe the experience from all their senses. Did the office have a mood or feeling to it, smell, color, etc. The more detailed they are with you about their experience the more you will feel comfortable walking though the door and the more successful your experience will be.
Speaking Point: Websites – It’s finally becoming common for most CAM practitioners to have a website. I suggest that you check this out before you even call them to make an appointment. Is the website well designed/thought out? Is the information clean and easy to understand? Most importantly, look at their picture. How do you feel about that person in the picture? First impressions are huge and how you respond to a practitioner can, in a way, determine how successful your experience with them will be.
Speaking Point: Yelp – One of my favorite places to truly find out about how good a practitioner can be is through online referral services like Yelp.com. Yelp is full of testimonials from a people about on everything from dry cleaners to restaurants to health providers and gardeners. These are unsolicited reviews/testimonials that will provide you a clear picture of other people’s experiences with this practitioner. Don’t necessarily be deterred by a negative review but do take it into account when you speak with the practitioner. In fact, let them know about it in a nice way and see how they respond. This is a good test for how they will respond to you if things get a little rough and healing can often times be ROUGH.
Speaking Point: Call – After you’ve done your research I always suggest making a call to speak directly with the CAM practitioner you are interested in. How do they answer the phone? Do you feel comfortable speaking with them? Remember, your call probably isn’t expected so keep your conversation precise and don’t waste your time. AND please don’t expect them to explain everything to you right then and there. That’s what your first appointment is for. Do ask questions such as cost and scheduling availability. It’s also good to ask them their specialty or if they’ve worked with any one before who has what you are experiencing (your dis-ease or presenting conditions). Again, don’t make it a long conversation but do listen to how they respond to you and if you feel listened to.
Speaking Point: Stop In – How you feel when you walk in the door of a CAM health practitioner’s office is extremely important. Do you feel safe? Comfortable? Do you like the environment? Many CAM practitioners work out of their home so knocking on their door might not be a good idea but drive by their address and check it out. You’re probably going to spend some significant time with them and if you don’t feel comfortable in their place then move on.