Healing Journey Monday: Finding a practitioner

You may have gathered that in 25 years of searching for answers about my health and trying to sort out my muscles I’ve seen a lot of alternative practitioners. While there’s no one piece of advice that can guarantee that you’ll get the best practitioner, I’ve learned a few tips to pass along.

While geography plays a big role (some places have few choices*) the key piece of choosing a practitioner is intuition – both as to being drawn to a particular modality and to being drawn to a particular practitioner. And probably the most important thing about a given practitioner is their ability to tune in to the problem and understand it on more than one level. But those are also the things that are hard to define. Word of mouth really helps on that part but I’ve loathed some practitioners that others loved and vice versa. Credentials give you some guidelines but I learned over the years that there are some things you need to know about credentials.

Most modalities that are widely accepted have some sort of school or program that involves lots and lots of hours of classes and lots of hours (usually somewhere in the hundreds) of clinical practice in order to complete the requirements and become certified. And some of them have more than one level of certification (CranioSacral has something like five levels plus some specialty courses). Many also have week long or weekend workshops in which some piece of the modality is taught. And it turns out that lots of people will take one week or a weekend and start putting “CranioSacral therapist” or “neuromuscular therapist”, etc. on their business cards and other materials. So you have to ask some questions or do some research if you want to know the true qualifications of a practitioner and whether he or she is really certified in the technique you want.

Some schools, like Upledger Institute, have an on line listing of practitioners that also tells you what levels the person has been certified in (although it only works if they’ve gotten all their CranioSacral training at Upledger; anyone who has been trained in some levels or courses by a CranioSacral teacher somewhere else will not have all their credentials shown on that site. Sometimes you can tell by looking at the credentials they’ve put on the wall of the office– generally the only healing modalities in which they’re officially certified will be seen in certificates on the wall.

For me it has always been some mix of what modality I am drawn toward and/or which practitioner seems right and then I’ll look a bit at what the person’s background is and whether they’re certified and, if so, at what level. My advice is really trust your gut and then also do some research. And if, after carefully choosing, you don’t like the person or don’t feel good about the treatment, don’t be afraid to move on.

I’ve been blessed to have some great practitioners from acupuncture to massage to CranioSacral, etc. and their assistance in my healing process has been invaluable. I’ve also here and there gone to someone who just really didn’t suit me or whose “bedside manner” ruined the excellence of their treatments and sometimes I stuck it out too long. Particularly with alternative health practitioners I think you really have to take charge of your own process.

* When I moved to Lexington there were not a lot of practitioners around and for many modalities there was only one choice and yet the people I found here have been some of the best practitioners ever and I’ve had great success with their help, so small numbers doesn’t have to mean that you don’t have a great choice awaiting.

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