In the medical arena, it can be difficult to sort out what all of the titles and letters mean in front of, or behind someone’s last name. However, you see their titles and trust they have the knowledge and education to treat the symptom, disease, or health ailment you are currently suffering from. You may also assume the personal trainer you work out with and the massage therapist you visit monthly both have degrees or licensure in their respective fields. You trust these individuals to guide you in your journey to health, but what about the professionals that fall within the alternative health category?
When you see the word “holistic” on a brochure, what does that really mean? Is a holistic practitioner the same as a practitioner? Are the educational requirements to dive into this profession the same? How can you trust that these professionals have the education necessary to help you, and what do they help you with? The reality is, many medical professionals who are considered alternative and use a holistic lens, are actually equally specialized and qualified to treat you as a whole person when you have a particular health concern. In fact, once you begin to recognize a few of the terms used to describe the work holistic practitioners perform and the perspective they use in helping their clients, you may find yourself going to them for your next wellness visit.
What is a Holistic Practitioner?
A holistic practitioner is any professional within the health industry who uses a holistic perspective when helping you, the client. He or she may be a medical doctor, nutritionist, psychologist, osteopath, etc., with varying educational backgrounds in their respective career field. A health practitioner is required to gain the same education as any other practitioner. For example, a holistic doctor would be required to obtain all of the educational requirements, licensure, and documentation as a traditional doctor. However, their chosen career path will also require additional education in order to offer a holistic approach to a client’s treatment.
How to Define Holistic
The word holistic means “the sum of its parts”. A holistic worldview would require that a person considers the global community, the people and cultures that make up the community, the environmental conditions, how exchanges are made, and the like; in order to fully understand the world in which we live on a holistic scale. When an individual defines what they do as holistic, it then suggests that they see the larger picture of their work through the detailed understanding of what makes up the subject they are studying. For example, if a person uses a holistic approach to food culture, this would suggest that they have a deep understanding of how people consume food, the food enjoyed by different cultures, cultural food traditions, enjoying food using the five senses, etc.
Using this definition, a holistic practitioner looks at a client’s ailment, wellness goal, or other lifestyle change through several different lenses. He or she may take into consideration your eating habits, amount of sleep, exercise routine, relationships, and numerous other aspects of your life, in order to fully understand who you are as a person and what areas of your life need adjusting to improve your current health status.
When to Visit a Holistic Practitioner
Anytime is the right time to visit a holistic practitioner’s office. Whether you are seeing a holistic doctor, dentist, nutritionist, herbalist, etc., this professional will always provide your care with a holistic perspective in mind. He or she will ask you about your current job, social circles, and any health conditions in the past that may be relevant to the work you will be navigating together. Any holistic practitioner, regardless of the field they are in, will equip themselves with the tools necessary to see you for the individual you are and the various lifestyle choices that may be contributing to your health ailments and ability to live a full and meaningful life. You can feel secure and confident that any holistic practitioner will see you as a whole person with feelings, physical strengths and weaknesses, and a social connection to others outside of the office space; and they will provide treatment and encouragement accordingly.
The next time you begin the hunt of finding a massage therapist, dentist, or doctor consider taking the holistic perspective approach to your search. When you find the holistic practitioner who is right for you, you can feel secure knowing their education matches that of a traditional practitioner, but with the added bonus that he or she will see you as a person with many parts, not just a physical ailment or health condition.