Before everything else, make sure that, once you decide to take the alternative medical route, you are clear on your own therapy goals. Ask yourself what you expect to gain and achieve. Is it to cure a particular illness, prevent a condition, reduce stress, or relieve pain? Once you’ve noted that down, all that’s left is the toughest but most important part: to look for a reliable alternative medicine practitioner.
If selecting a conventional doctor is already quite a challenge, how much more if it were an alternative medicine practitioner?
Step 1. Research
The first step is actually looking for a source to find a reputable alternative medicine practitioner. Here are some suggestions to aid you:
- Ask a doctor, nurse, or other registered healthcare professional. Most people already have a primary care physician with whom they can ask for referrals. With the growing demand for alternative medicine, medical doctors may already be working with them, if not, may at least have them in their network.
- Contact professional associations. This does not include National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Some specific alternative medicine procedures like acupuncture have one or more professional, established organizations; ask for a list of members in the neighbourhood. These are exceptional sources of practitioners that are also specializing in the field.
- Call the hospitals. If the personal physician can’t refer an alternative medicine practitioner, ring a hospital or a medical school because they have departments that may have on-site practitioners or a network of therapists.
- Try insurance companies. A few number of health insurance providers offer coverage for alternative medicine. They may also have a list of practitioners specializing on more known fields like acupuncture, massage therapies, and the like.
Step 2. Research About the Practitioner
Remember that this alternative medicine practitioner will be looking after your health for quite some time. Make sure it’s someone you can trust and you can be comfortable with. The only way to do so is to research on and/or interview him/her. Here are issues to consider:
- Level of qualification. This covers the kind of training and education that the alternative medicine practitioner has/had. It is also possible to double-check with the professional organizations about the information.
- Specialization. The credentials for alternative medicine practitioners vary, and sometimes they are trained for a number of treatments and therapies. Make sure to know which areas he/she specializes in.
- First impressions and effectiveness of treatment. Alternative medicine is usually a new and unique experience for patients. Find a practitioner who will be tolerant enough to explain how different or beneficial the treatment you’re seeking is from the more conventional way.
- Proof of treatment. Although not much research has been conducted for alternative medicine, the practitioner may have an idea or an experience that will prove that the treatment you’re seeking works.
- Duration of wait. This may not be accurate, but it’s best to let the alternative medicine practitioner give an estimate of how long the wait is to see the results.
- Personality and level of professionalism. One most often forgotten issue to consider is the relationship with the alternative medicine practitioner. This may include the rapport with the therapist as well as the professionalism that he/she exemplifies.
- Costs. Last but not the least.
Step 3. It’s Your Turn
You also have a special role in choosing an alternative medicine practitioner. This includes explaining all of your health conditions to him/her so it’s easier for him/her to identify and understand your specific needs without forgetting that the whole well being is the goal.