Yes, I was "one of them." Years ago, my beliefs about alternative or complementary health care options were very limited. Comments such as, "It can’t possibly work, it’s a fad and it’s too different for me," may have been uttered from my lips. Having been raised in a Western medical family, I thought that Western medicine was the only option for health. I was ignorant in a very true sense, not one of negativity – just lack of knowledge.
When I became aware of the options and then the differences between conventional, Western medicine and alternative/complementary modalities, my beliefs changed – thus my attitude, career and life have changed in response.
For years, I had struggled with chronic physical pain and negative emotional states, and Western medicine had no solution for me except medication. I am not one to take pills, so I opened my eyes and my mind to find other alternatives so that I could heal physically and emotionally. I came to realize that for me, the essential differences between Western medicine and alternative modalities could be found in three areas: language, approach and integration.
The first thing I noticed when experiencing alternative medicine was the difference in language. My earlier world of Western medicine had taught me words like antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, pain killer, hypertension and disorder – all very paternalistic in my view. These words communicate the absence of something or a perception of negativity. Conversely, alternative medicine shared words like balance, tonify, restore or transform, which seemed much more holistic and preventative to me.
Approach also seemed diametrically opposed. The Western medical approach is one of attacking the main complaint (and only the main complaint) and doing it in a very short time frame – the magic bullet philosophy. My recent visit with a Western physician lasted less than 10 minutes. The result: a prescription. Alternative therapies focus on the whole person physically, emotionally and spiritually and their patterns that result. Many practitioners in my arena spend between 90 minutes and two hours on initial visits with patients, because they want to know them "holistically." Taking time to know your patient/client is a critical investment for wellness.
This partnering and extensive knowledge of the patient also enable these practitioners to focus on not only short-term treatment but also long-term lifestyle changes – hence the integration difference. In my 45 years of conventional medical encounters, I have never been asked how I wanted to feel now, much less years from now. As a result of my experiences with conventional medicine, I believe it to be reactive versus proactive.
Western medicine has tackled acute illness very effectively; its strength in diagnostics and technology cannot be surpassed. As the next century arrives, we will continue to be challenged with issues not classified as acute – issues of disease prevention, holistic wellness and the management of chronic illnesses for which Western medicine has had only limited successes. It is the limited successes within conventional medicine that bring patients to the doors of complementary practitioners.
Non-acute issues may be life’s ups and downs, financial stressors or relationship problems at work or home. Therapeutic Coaching® is an example of a complementary modality that addresses non-acute issues. Therapeutic Coaches are capable of working with a wide range of issues – from phobias and allergies, to life transitions, depressive moods, repetitive trends in life, issues surrounding relationships and self-esteem and lack of motivation. The list goes on to include just about anything that gets in the way of a person’s happiness, success or fulfillment. Therapeutic Coaches facilitate transformation from where you are to where you want to be, easily and comfortably, while teaching tools and skills that can be used into the future. Therapeutic Coaches and their techniques build upon the drive for a better life and provide perspective and guidance surrounding what was previously unknown. They help facilitate epiphanies and personal wisdom leading to long-term transformation.
My life has shared many pieces of wisdom with me. One such wisdom led me to acupuncture for the elimination of fibromyalgia pain, and another wisdom led me to Therapeutic Coaching® to re-route my neurology and eliminate my negative emotional states of the past. Therapeutic Coaching® is effective because it eliminates negative behaviors so that the desired behavior is achieved. Those wisdoms not only changed my health, but they’ve changed what I do for a living. It is wisdom that creates epiphanies and epiphanies that have created a desire inside of me to become a "barefoot doctor," a "curandero" – a traditional healer such as those who have healed their people for thousands of years.
As I look back at years ago, I realize that what seemed different and strange to me at first has become a true appreciation and, most importantly, a way of life.