Updated: Aug 4, 2021
Midwifery is very relationship-based. It prioritizes mutual decision making so much so that the American College of Nurse-Midwives has made this a priority among all their professional documents. We, as midwives, prioritize counseling, education, and informed consent. We seek to empower our clients and become their best #advocate. Fear-based medicine is something of conventional medicine practitioners, obstetrics, but not midwifery, and certainly not integrative and functional medicine clinicians. This relationship is largely why these practitioners face fewer liability claims, not because our clients "like" us more but more so because they take responsibility in their care. Clients are active participants in their plan and so also appreciate that any treatment isn't a guarantee or better maybe, they appreciate that their clinicians aren't playing god. We work together to optimize health, to best of each of our abilities.
The #relationship fosters healing not only by allowing the #practitioner to gain insight into the client's situation, but also by building the client's trust and confidence in their provider. When education and listening, even counseling becomes the focus over dictating prescriptions and diagnostics, client's feel heard. This builds trust and trust acts as a tool to activate the client's natural healing response and supports whatever technique the provider uses, whether it is acupuncture, #botanicals, #yoga, or even pharmaceuticals or surgery.
The literature behind the power in this relationship is solid. As an integrative and functional wellness clinician, my goal as your clinician is to point you down the path, but as the client, you must commit to that journey. The workload really is on your shoulders. This attitude really does a great deal to remove the pressure and guilt from providers who have been trained to think of themselves as failures when they cannot fix the client's problems. This really is important when so many conditions in primary care today are chronic and therefore, quite complex. Success is more about helping the client find inner peace - finding their authenticity - living their best life - so they can embrace a better quality of life, whether the problem ultimately resolves or not.
Wellness through Prevention
Our practice is membership based because we prioritize #prevention or true optimal care more so than sitting in wait for concern, and then managing dis-ease. We truly want our clients to invest in a healthy lifestyle and to work towards balance to ward off imbalance. Our Detoxification & Wellness program is an incredible offering towards this mission. Yoga, mindfulness, Hikes with the Doc, even our book club are all privy to the active member and evidence of our commitment.
Chronic disease now accounts for most all health concerns in our country with consumers simply waiting idle until this happens. There is a perception that our genetics determine whether we've drawn the short straw or not, however, this is not evidence-based. We've been lead astray. Nature is in control; it is the switch that turns on genetic expression. Very few genetic diseases are related to a single, catastrophic outcome.
Rather than simply evaluate for overt disease and then give a bandaid for its symptom management, our team is eager to identify potential #triggers that may contribute to dis-ease into your near future. We not only help identify these, but we work to equip you in creating a more optimal lifestyle. We are living what we preach and extending these resources to each of our members.
When imbalance is present, we work to offer you a plan offering the best possible treatments from both #CAM and allopathic medicine, having education in both the conventional model and the integrative and functional medicine models of care. These treatments are based on good science, neither rejecting conventional medicine nor uncritically accepting alternative practices. Discernment. Discernment. Discernment. With a huge dose of critical thinking.
Keep in mind however, integrative medicine is bigger than just CAM therapies, or complementary and alternative medicine. Integrative medicine works beyond the plethora of healing modalities to focus on healing through building the client and clinician relationship.
Exploring Our Inner Self
We are our own first patient. Digging in is not only important for our clients, but it is also important for the practitioner - so we can understand what it means to be present with our clients, without judgment. We have to be willing to tune into the suffering of another, be both empathetic and compassionate. Pharmaceuticals do not cure long-term. They delay the suffering, suppressing important communication from the body regarding the underlying issue, but if we aren't willing to invest in optimal living ourselves, while we can "prescribe" this for our clients, what we will lack is the effectiveness in assisting them with implementation, which really is the golden nugget.
My own journey was tough. It meant stepping away from midwifery, a very demanding yet highly rewarding role in which I was quite successful. It was my identity. Quite literally, I didn't know who I was without it and admittedly, I felt my life calling was to improve maternal and neonatal outcomes (my doctoral work) because of my son's death - it was to be his legacy. How would I walk away from that, right? It became clear to me that I had in fact offered myself, I had given my all, and now it was time to invest in me. That was yet a season in my life. A new season was to come. After a few years of self-investing, digging for my inner self and finding what is authentic to me, I returned to #integrative and #functional #wellness. Refreshed and eager.
Creating a healing environment was necessary for me as a demanding position and exceedingly hostile profession had really taken their toll. I see this now with my clients as well. They lack a safe place and often can't even identify their rights and needs. Optimal health isn't just about behavioral modifications such as better nutrition and more activity, but also about healing spaces, connecting with nature, healthy relationships, intentions, and personal wholeness.
It seems silly, but our environment does play a huge role in our overall health. You know when you're in a place that really calms you, resonates with your energy, and offers you happiness and great peace. This is different for everyone, but the color of one's space invites various emotional responses, the light and air quality impacts our mood, even the music and art can affect our state of mind. Following my divorce, I went through the house and repainted every wall, tossed furniture, and decluttered from top to bottom. I created a sanctuary for myself and honestly, I felt like a new woman just in this effort alone.
Getting into nature is also critical. We all depend on that connection, a balancing of our electrons. A healthy ecosystem supports our own recovery, repair, reintegration, and renewal. It increases our resilience and wholeness. Our members are offered an extensive Detoxification & Wellness program which guides them through creating a healing space and connecting with nature. If you've had a wellness visit in the last year, don't miss out on this opportunity. Keep in mind however, that healing intention is more important than the physical space, so one doesn't require a significant budget to make this successful. One simply need to allow some creativity and introspection.
The Healing Encounter
It may not surprise you to know that in #psychotherapy, the most effective factors influencing healing is the establishment of a therapeutic relationship. The client who feels a sense of trust with their provider and rapport gains the most in their consultation with their clinician. As a #midwife, I would offer clients a stack of birth options - birthing in water, avoiding cesarean section, freedom to eat and move as they desire, support in breastfeeding - and every single time over the thirteen years I was in practice, with more than fifty different options available, clients consistently chose wanting a safe birth with a clinician they trusted as their utmost priority. It is in fact, trust that creates a safe environment and if the practice felt it had not effectively established a therapeutic relationship with any particular client, for whatever reason, we would encourage clients to transition care to another provider or setting in which they felt they might better connect.
Ultimately, as clinicians, we won't always be that safe place for our clients. We might offer the client the most perfect wellness plan but because the client doesn't trust our recommendation, for whatever reason, or because they have a different perspective on their health and healing, the plan will not offer them success. Interestingly, one study found when psychiatrists who were rated "high" in relationship and rapport treated depressed patients using a placebo, they had better outcomes than did psychiatrists who were rated lower and who used active drugs. The practitioner rather than the pill has the largest impact on the outcome.