I often ask myself what role a practitioner should play, and what is our position in the journey of patients’ healing. I believe we have to consider how to lead patients to think positively and awaken their own healing potential.
When patients come for a follow-up appointment, I always ask how they felt in the past week. Often they don’t really remember the details of what has happened, and some offer to make a note next time. I used to think this would be a good way to keep track of their symptoms. However, patients may then return with a long list of “symptoms”, logged every few hours of every day. This cannot be right! This kind of diary just reminds patients to look for negative symptoms, even on a “good day”. As soon as I realized this, I stopped suggesting that patients make notes.
For a few years, a lovely lady has been visiting my clinic for for stress and anxiety; she is a “natural worrier”. About two years ago she made an appointment to see me saying she felt quite strange. In fact, she was simply feeling good; sleep, energy, mood, everything was fine. She was not used to it, and therefore was feeling “strange” and thought she might need a treatment.
I asked her “If you feel good, why don’t you trust yourself”? “Should I?” she replied hesitantly. I said, “Look at the lovely sunshine outside. I suggest you do not have treatment today. Save the time and money, have a nice walk on the beach and use the money to buy yourself a nice meal and bunch of flowers, and enjoy it”!
She happily left without a treatment. I did not charge her anything. I may have lost one hour of business, but I built up the trust and the patient built up her confidence. It is well worth it.
The same happens again and again when patients take holidays. Some patients are very nervous before they go, asking me if they should take enough herbal medicine to cover the whole time away. Unless it is absolutely necessary, I often ask patients not to take any medicine, just to relax and enjoy the holiday. The result is always positive! I never lose any long-term business because of this.
I always position myself as a companion in my patients’ journey of healing, not in opposition to them, not superior over them. This works!