We all have physical health, which during our lifetime, is likely to vary between good and poor. Similarly, we are likely to experience the same variations in our mental health; though we can be less willing to acknowledge the latter.
Complementary therapists believe the mind and body are inextricably linked and the state, or balance, of one is interdependent on the state, or balance, of the other e.g. heart attack survivors can often go on to develop anxiety and panic attacks following their physical trauma. Likewise people who sustain physical injuries or develop debilitating illnesses can go on to suffer depression due to the helplessness, loss, or even resentment they feel.
Conversely, people going through periods of poor mental health often develop a wide range of physical symptoms. In fact, it is believed that 80% of all physical illness e.g. IBS, headaches, digestive/stomach problems, skin conditions etc. are caused by stress.
Complementing the medical profession
Complementary therapists aim to work alongside or "complement" the traditional medical profession since their role is in primarily diagnosing and treating symptoms. Whereas the role of a complementary therapist is to takes a wider view in order to help clients identify what imbalance(s) caused the symptoms to occur in the first place. By identifying the root causes, clients can be encouraged to make changes to eliminate these and in turn eliminate and prevent the symptoms recurring.
Complementary therapists should never diagnose or prescribe, instead they will offer suggestions for regaining balance.
Times are changing and the NHS are beginning to seek the services of complementary therapists to assist in the treatment of patients e.g. soon I will be able to take referrals from the NHS looking for my clinical hypnosis skills and the NHS are also providing some funding for staff to train in complementary therapies such as reflexology, which is being used by midwifes in some maternity units.
Equally, complementary therapists recognise that there will be times when it would be more appropriate for clients to seek help from the medical profession e.g. I’d be the first to go to A&E if I broke my leg whereas I might seek the assistance of a complementary therapist if I were feeling stressed and unable to cope.
Holistic therapy and Referring clients elsewhere
“Holistic” therapy means treating the "whole" person by respecting the mind, body and spirit that makes up that person. When treating clients, complementary therapists aim to get a “whole picture” by understanding their clients' medical history, lifestyle, diet, work and family commitments, stressors at work or at home etc. in order to suggest treatment that would be most beneficial.
In some circumstances, having gained this information during a consultation, it may transpire that the clients’ needs would be better met elsewhere. If I felt it inappropriate to treat the client but to refer them on to their GP, or on to another complementary therapist who could offer a more suited therapy, I would not charge clients for their appointment time with me.