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3 Things to Look for When Searching for a New Naturopath

Looking for a new naturopath? Consider the following things before you make your choice:

  1. Can you get a free phone consult?
  2. During the consult, do you feel listened to?
  3. How holistic is the assessment and treatment?

When I was in medical school, we were told that vast majority of our patients would come from word-of-mouth referrals. “No one finds a doctor in the Yellow Pages,” it was said. That phrase seems so cute now! At the time, however, we all nodded our heads and wrote it dutifully in our notes.

In one way, our teachers were right: word-of-mouth referrals are gold. But the development of the internet completely flipped the part about the Yellow Pages. Quite a few of my patients find me through an internet search—without knowing anyone who has ever come to see me. You might be one of those people. And if you are, here’s a little advice…

Can you get a free phone consult?

I think we all agree that we can only tell so much about a physician from a website. As naturopaths, we generally have a better web presence than a conventional MD, but the site can still be fairly generic. Therefore, it’s awesome to be able to get on the phone with a doc for a few minutes. It’s important to hear their voice, ask a few questions, and get a feel for the energy of a person. Many ND’s offer 15 minute free phone consults, and I thinks it’s helpful to take advantage of that service.

During the consult, do you feel listened to?

If you don’t feel listened to during that initial phone consult, it’s a red flag that the doctor’s agenda is more important than yours. 15 minutes isn’t a lot of time, but from my perspective, it’s enough time to for me to listen and take notes on the details of the conversation. If I’m talking to you on the phone, I will listen, ask a few questions, and try to get an initial sense of where you are stuck. I sincerely hope that I’ll be able to work with you as a patient, and when you come into the office, I don’t want to start over. I’d rather continue where we left off, saving us both time.

Is the naturopathic treatment approach holistic?

The concept of naturopathic medicine is a big umbrella. All naturopathic physicians practice differently. In some cases, it’s shades of grey, and in others it’s like wildly different colors of the rainbow!

After 12 years of seeking, I’ve come to believe that a truly holistic approach is critical. It’s the only way to truly individualize treatment.

What do I mean by that statement? We all pay lip service to “treating the person, not the disease.” But in order to truly treat the person, you have to assess, evaluate, and treat the whole person! And you—as a person—are a web of physical metabolism and biochemistry, energetic anatomy (like meridians, chakras, chi, prana), a diverse and active mind, and a spirit, trying to find meaning in the world.

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