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Olwen Anderson's Blog

Choosing the right health practitioner for you

Saturday, February 08, 2014
The relationship between you and your health practitioner as a skilled helper is a special one. In a friendship, sharing of confidences leads to a deeper relationship; but the relationship with your practitioner is all about you, and there’s a distinct imbalance of power. You meet with the practitioner in their space; they advise you what to do, and most of the time you know little or nothing about them. There’s a lot of trust on your part and the relationship can seem unequal.

You believe your practitioner is qualified to provide advice on your problem, and you trust that they’re going to do the best they can for you. But if you don’t trust them, you’re not likely to reveal much about yourself, and your practitioner won’t be able to help you as effectively.

Would you agree, then, that being in a therapeutic relationship can be less effective if you don’t choose your practitioner wisely?  To get the most out of your treatment -whether it’s naturopathy, massage, osteopathy, counselling, podiatry, or any of the myriad of caring professions out there, it’s a good idea to take a moment to decide what you want from your practitioner, and what expertise and standards you expect them to have. Surprisingly, many people assume that their practitioner is qualified and accredited without checking.

Alas, many of the helping professions in Australia outside the public health system are almost totally unregulated. So if it’s important to you that your practitioner is properly qualified, check that they’re accredited with a professional body. Accrediting organisations oversee the standards expected for their profession; ensure their members are adequately qualified, and that they continually upgrade their skills. Usually accredited practitioners will include details of the association they’re registered with on their advertisement, business card or web site. Actually, the practitioner’s web site can impart details of the practitioner’s treatment philosophy and approach very effectively – it’s well worth a visit before you book.

Next, give your proposed practitioner a call. Do you feel at ease talking with them? Are they happy to explain to you how they work? Your ‘gut feeling’ about your level of comfort with that practitioner is an important litmus test of how well you’re likely to be able to work together. If you feel so uncomfortable with your practitioner that you’re withholding information, your treatment progress might be hampered.

Finally, see how you feel after your first consultation. Locating the right practitioner can be a little like dating. You might have to see several practitioners for your concerns before you find the right one for you.  But when the relationship between you and your practitioner is trusting, and you feel well cared for, your treatment is likely to progress better too.

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