3 Ways To Thrive As A Health Practitioner
So you’re a newly minted health practitioner, shiny and excited to get out there and provide services for the multitude of folks that need it. Whether you are a nutritionist, herbalist, yoga therapist, aromatherapist, energy worker or some variation on the theme, I recognize it often feels overwhelming to begin taking on those first few clients.
The following are a few tips to minimize the feeling of overwhelm and to offer the best we have to those that come to see us.
SEE ALSO: 10 Ways To Go From Tired To Terrific
Though it’s true that self-care is a huge buzz word these days, it’s also true that being in a therapeutic role for other people is often draining; we are listening and supporting the hardships and struggles of other people. As such, it is critically important that you take care of yourself to work through mental obstructions, physical ailments and spiritual questions that you might have about your place in the world.
As practitioners, we have the responsibility to hold space and be present for people, and we can’t be there fully if we allow all our personal problems to boil at a slow simmer on the back burner. Personal problems (whether it’s proper boundaries, unresolved emotional issues, unconscious biases or tangible pain felt chronically in your body) can bleed into our practice.
Go to therapy, go for acupuncture, go for long walks in the woods, remember to eat well and talk to an honest friend that will support you towards self-realization. I often like to take a few moments to ground before seeing a new client, sitting in silence and focusing on my breath and my body to be more fully integrated and present before the session starts. This is also a deep plug for setting up a regular meditation practice. Through regular practice we develop the ability to drop in and access that stillness wherever we are; this is priceless when it comes to being in a therapeutic role. Do things that help to replenish your well.
Let People Choose
Although some people may be feel overwhelmed by the option of more choices, often allowing people to be active agents in their health contributes to both a sense of empowerment as well as better patient compliance. Many people have been given the run around in the medical system and are rarely, if ever, given options. If it seems appropriate, give someone the option to make a decision for themselves. What medicine or therapeutic practice will work best for them?
In my herbal practice, though I might think that the convenience of a tincture might be best for someone, they may not be able to stomach the taste and fail to take it altogether. Perhaps they enjoy the ritual of a tea, or maybe capsules are a better option. Asking before administering can be the difference between someone taking their medicine and coming back, or losing out on the opportunity to assist someone into the future.
It’s Okay to Say “I Don’t Know”
Just because we exist as professionals in our respective fields does not mean that we know everything. There is something to be said about humility and admitting when you don’t know something. Paul Bergner, the director of the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism, calls humility, ‘attunement to reality’, and advocates showing up as yourself, not making false claims about what you know and don’t know, and allowing ‘I don’t know’ to roll off you easily. Check your automatic responses and be prepared to pause and get back to someone if you are not fully confident of an answer. Remember that we are there to offer the best we have for a client, and being a definitive authority on a topic is not as important as providing reassurance that we are working towards their health goal together.
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