How to Find a Good Complementary Health Practitioner

Choosing a complementary health practitioner – such as a massage therapist – can be a tricky task. And you should make your choice with as much care as you do with a practitioner of conventional medicine. Here, the experts from the SeniorHealth division of the National Institutes of Health share the best ways to pick a good practitioner:

If you need names of practitioners in your area, first check with your doctor or other health care provider. A nearby hospital or medical school, professional organizations, state regulatory agencies or licensing boards, or even your health insurance provider may be helpful.

Find out as much as you can about any potential practitioner, including education, training, licensing, and certifications. The credentials required for complementary health practitioners vary tremendously from state to state and from discipline to discipline.

Find out whether the practitioner is willing to work together with your conventional health care providers. For safe, coordinated care, it’s important for all of the professionals involved in your health to communicate and cooperate.

Explain all of your health conditions to the practitioner, and find out about the practitioner’s training and experience in working with people who have your medical issues. Choose a practitioner who understands how to work with people with your specific needs, even if general well-being is your goal. And, remember that health conditions can affect the safety of complementary approaches; for example, if you have glaucoma, some yoga poses may not be safe for you.

Don’t assume that your health insurance will cover the practitioner’s services. Contact your health insurance provider and ask. Insurance plans differ greatly in what complementary health approaches they cover, and even if they cover a particular approach, restrictions may apply.

Tell all your health care providers about all complementary approaches you use and about all practitioners who are treating you. Keeping your health care providers fully informed helps you to stay in control and effectively manage your health.

Reprinted from NIH SeniorHealth. For more information on other health issues, visit the SeniorHealth website.

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