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Editorial Issue 67

by Sandra Goodman PhD(more info)

listed in editorial, originally published in issue 67 - August 2001

How to find a qualified, competent complementary practitioner ought to be a straight forward enough process; however, as you can deduce from Sarah Noble's article of that title (see page 30), nothing to do with health care is ever simple.

Even if all the issues regarding training, standards and regulation for every therapy encompassing complementary medicine were attended to, and every single practitioner had his or her appropriate qualification, licence and insurance certificate hanging on the wall where they practise, (and these are huge processes likely to occupy the professions for quite a few years yet), this would be only one component of this deceptively simple process.

Common sense dictates that there probably isn't one right practitioner for anybody, unless, that is, you are content to take pot luck with whomsoever you consult for each type of health problem. It is extremely unlikely that you are going to find one therapist who can fill all your needs – who can practise aromatherapy, massage, reflexology, homeopathy, herbal and nutritional medicine, counselling or psychotherapy, not to speak of the needs of other members of your family.

The practitioner that you go to when your back aches is likely not to be the same therapist you consult for your or your children's allergies.

Even putting aside the issues of qualification, finding the therapist that you trust and feel good about for your health needs is no less complicated than finding any other professional in other walks of life. When you need a lawyer, an estate agent, an accountant, a plumber or a financial adviser, finding the person to suit your needs and budget isn't simply taking the first person listed in the Yellow pages. Personality, approach, area of expertise, length and type of training – all these factors vary enormously within individuals of every profession.

This is not to say that being qualified and well-trained isn't an essential prerequisite for each and every health care practitioner in whichever discipline they practise. It is just to point out that even the most famous and illustrious individuals in every profession, including the medical profession, are human and therefore fallible and make mistakes. The practitioner having the right qualifications doesn't guarantee that you will receive the treatment you want or need. A majority of people have passed their driving test and possess a valid driving licence; however not everyone drives safely and appropriately at all times.

Which leads me to the outrageous bullying and threatening directed at parents who didn't wish to subject their infant children to steroid treatment for Juvenile Arthritis, as communicated in the Letters section (see page 46) by the eminent and highly senior reflexologist Mary Martin. When the parents of one young child (eleven months) who developed juvenile arthritis refused steroid treatment, the child was put on the 'at risk' register!! And, when the parents of another child who had been treated with steroids between age two to four years and who had developed permanent damage (virtual blindness in one eye, and fusing of her knees and ankle joints) refused further steroids for their child, the Consultant threatened to prosecute the mother!!!

Talk about the arrogance of the medical profession. It is well known that steroids have serious side effects. Attempting to threaten the parents, even stigmatize the child because their parents wished to pursue other treatment options is a flagrant abuse of these so-called professionals' authority. The stories of these children have happier endings, thanks to the results of reflexology and other approaches, which will be elaborated in Mary Martin's fuller column in Issue 68.

So, returning to the qualifications and training issue, we have to ask who will be sitting in judgement of complementary practitioners – will it be the very same doctors who would threaten and bully parents because intelligent parents wished to avoid the worst side effects of steroid drug treatment?

In the end, as I have often said before, I think that we the patients, for we are all patients at various times, must take an active role in choosing the right practitioner(s), the appropriate treatment(s) and deciding what is best for our health. Although the degree, the license and the qualifications are all reassuring and provide some measure of security, we must also use our judgement in finding a qualified and competent practitioner.


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About Sandra Goodman PhD

Sandra Goodman PhD, Co-founder and Editor of Positive Health, trained as a Molecular Biology scientist in Agricultural Biotechnology in Canada and the US, focusing upon health issues since the 1980s in the UK. Author of 4 books, including Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art, Vitamin C – The Master Nutrient, Germanium: The Health and Life Enhancer and numerous articles, Dr Goodman was the lead author of the Consensus Document Nutritional and LifeStyle Guidelines for People with Cancer and compiled the Cancer and Nutrition Database for the Bristol Cancer Help Centre in 1993. Dr Goodman is passionate about making available to all people, particularly those with cancer, clinical expertise in Nutrition and Complementary Therapies. Dr Goodman was recently featured as Doctor of the Fortnight in ThinkWellness360.

Dr Goodman and long-term partner Mike Howell seek individuals with vision, resources, and organization to continue and expand the Positive Health PH Online legacy beyond the first 30 years, with facilities for training, to fund alternative cancer research, and promote holistic organizations internationally. Read about Dr Goodman and purchase Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art.  She may be contacted privately for Research, Lectures and Editorial services via:   and

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