There are a lot of clinicians and practitioners out there advertising their services. It’s hard to pick what path the follow! People are often confused at the contradictory advice being given to them by people on all ends of the ideological spectrum. When you are dealing with chronic illness, this can be exhausting and even triggering to try to navigate. While I certainly have my biases, I try my best to be balanced, and I want to share my biggest “red flags” when assessing if you want to work with someone new:

  1. Overall Philosophy: How does the practitioner view the body, and view symptoms? Regardless of whether their title has the word “functional”, “holistic” or “natural” in it- do they actually promote a systemic perspective, or are they stuck in an allopathic model of looking at symptoms and illness as simply dysfunction and disease. Your practitioner should help you MAKE SENSE of your illness- they help you understand what your body is trying to do through your symptoms and what the function of your symptoms are in the greater system of the body. Your symptoms should MAKE SENSE from the philosophy your practitioner shares with you, that points to a clear, overarching path for treatment. You should be leaving sessions with a sense of coherence, not chaos. If you are leaving sessions feeling like your body is damaged, broken, malfunctioning, or doing something wrong- your practitioner is not helping you heal!
  2. No urgency: If your practitioner seemed panicked, rushed, or makes you feel a sense of urgency in “getting a handle” on your symptoms- they are not there to help your heal. They just want to bandaid your symptoms so that you feel a little better and move on. True healing requires time, patience, and a very paced rate of introducing therapeutic practices.
  3. No Symptom Chasing: If your practitioner seems stuck on every little symptom you have, and is giving you a different list of supplements or protocols for every diagnosis on your chart- they are missing the point. With complex illnesses, we need to triage. You cannot address everything at once- it is essential to zoom out and look at the bigger picture of your health and healing. What are the bigger systems of the body that need support? If you are working on “fixing your thyroid” but not the immune or endocrine system as a whole- this is a problem.
  4. Dogma: If your practitioner is using language like “bad” or “good” foods, or uses scare tactic language around certain foods or practices, this is a big red flag! Healing is complex, and people heal using all sorts of different methods. While some methods may appear to be more useful to more people (every practitioner is going to have their favorite approaches), these are not black and white issues, and look out for people who use this language.
About the Author
Jen Donovan completely rebuilt her life and career as a result of her experience with severe chronic illness. After finding no answers from conventional medical approaches, she took matters into her own hands and with the help of key mentors, found a path to healing.
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