Something that comes up regularly in chronic illness circles is the treatment received from health experts – those who are supposed to be on your health team. More often than not, people feel mismanaged, ignored, uncomfortable.

The thing is, it’s not ok for you to feel like your health team isn’t supporting you. But how do you identify this? What are the signs that something isn’t working? Let’s take a look at what you should be offered by a quality professional of any kind.

 

Your practitioner should:

See you as a person

You are not a condition, or a set of conditions. You are not a typical case study. In fact, you are a living breathing human with feelings, unique needs and goals. A good practitioner will always take this into account.

If you feel like you’re being truly seen and understood as yourself, your sessions will be more productive. And the more productive the sessions, the more worthwhile it is. The higher the likelihood that you’ll see improvement. The mind is a powerful thing, so make sure you feel human when you see someone.

Make you feel comfortable

Sterile, overly formal doctors or practitioners might have oodles of degrees. But if you’re not comfortable holding a conversation with them, it could go wrong. When you’re uncomfortable, you might hold back information or questions. And that means their care of you is restricted.

Not everyone has to be a bundle of laughs – we all have our own personalities, after all. But you need to feel like you can exchange information with them, safely.

Be open to working with your team

I’m not saying that all of your health care team need to be agreeing on everything. But health practitioners are selling their patients short when they battle over teams. This is something that needs to stop.

For example, your doctor and naturopath don’t have to get along, or agree with each other. But they do need to respect each other’s care plans, and not interfere. They do need to communicate openly. And they should not be putting each other’s professions down in front of you. That is frankly unprofessional, and unacceptable.

Who you choose to be on your health care team is 100% your choice. The practitioners that make it up need to respect that.

Keep an eye on the bigger picture

No one is an expert in everything. But a practitioner should be monitoring your general health and state of mind at all times.

This is important for a few reasons. They should be able to spot when you might need support or a referral to someone else. They need to know if their treatment plan is going to be too much for you to take on. And most importantly, they should care.

By watching your overall well-being, they can play their role in supporting you more effectively.

What if they’re not?

You have a choice to make. Do you keep that person on the team, or do you find someone better suited? It’s up to you. I can’t tell you the right answer.

But one thing to think about. Don’t always assume that the ‘expert’ in the field is always going to be the best option. I had an osteopath working with me at one stage who was an expert in hypermobility. He’d presented overseas, and was a highly qualified lecturer. But he didn’t work with my individual needs. And I ended up injured.

So I started working with another osteopath who was a fresh graduate. But he tuned into my needs, my responses, and my body’s needs. He is still my osteopath to this day, for that very reason.

Sometimes, the ‘ideal’ person isn’t always your best choice. So stay open.

If someone new isn’t an option, think about other steps you could take. Sometimes, an open discussion can be all that’s needed. Practitioners are often very stressed, time-poor and tired people who aren’t aware of what they’re doing. So give them a chance to make a change.

You can also go back to your primary care practitioner and explain the issue to them. They may be able to find you someone more suitable, or give you some tips on how to work with your current practitioner.

 

Remember: You have the power

You might say ‘no, I don’t! I’m stuck with the professionals I have!’. But you do have power in this situation. You can take action – whether you fire them, confront them, or continue to see them. Just because you’re dealing with something complex doesn’t mean that you’re powerless.

If you have a supportive health care team, hold onto them. They’re worth their weight in gold.

 

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Sam is a nutritionist, freelance health writer, wellness speaker and foodie. Her health journey began with cancer, and she now lives with EDS. She dislikes writing bios in the third person, but her job requires it.

Her new site, Everyday Thriver, aims to empower people with chronic conditions to live inspiring lives.

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