The following are ideas to keep in mind while you find the right practitioner for you.
Be selective! You are developing your own healthcare team—you have the responsibility and authority to make choices about your health.
Is your primary doctor open to integrative medicine? Speak with your primary healthcare provider to verify if he or she is open to collaboration with an integrative practitioner and/or to see if he or she can recommend a practitioner to you.
Insurance may not cover the cost. Keep in mind that your insurance may not cover the cost of any complementary, alternative or integrative therapies. This may prove to be especially true in regard to preventive/proactive treatment used to promote health and well-being—versus treatment of an existing disease or condition.
Was it a trustworthy source? If not from your primary healthcare provider, how did you hear about this integrative medicine practitioner?
Did you check their credentials? What is the practitioner's training and how many years of experience does he or she have in the particular integrative field? Check for licensure and certification.
Do your homework! Do some research about the particular integrative medicine discipline you are interested in before you go, so you can ask specific questions (write them down!) and make educated decisions about your treatment.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Check out the environment. Are the facilities where you will receive the treatment professional, respectful, private, safe and clean?
Is the integrative medicine practitioner open to conventional medicine? Your choice to pursue conventional (Western/allopathic) medical treatment as you see fit should be received with respect. You do not want the practitioner—or any healthcare provider—to add stress or conflict to your life!
What did you say? Is the integrative medicine practitioner describing things in plain language that you understand?
I hardly even know you! Be prepared to answer questions about your personal health history.
What is involved? The integrative medicine practitioner should be able to describe to you how he or she conducts assessment of your condition, the course of treatment, the techniques used, the number of sessions anticipated and the cost.
What is expected of me? Many alternative therapies require a commitment from you regarding lifestyle changes. To get the most out of your treatment you need to be an active participant in your care.
Is there an end in sight? The integrative medicine practitioner should be able to describe the results you can expect (specific physical, emotional and spiritual outcomes). You may require ongoing treatment to maintain your comfort and well-being.
Be patient. Many integrative medicine treatments take time and require multiple visits before you notice significant changes in your health. Although we may hope for more dramatic changes, you may only notice subtle changes as you gradually become more finely attuned to your body.
Trust yourself. As in any other professional relationship, you have choices. If you don't feel comfortable with a particular practitioner or modality, you may want to find someone else who is a better fit for you.