Creating Your Integrative Team
Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Phil Jackson said, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” As individuals on a quest for wellness, assembling your health team is vital. In creating this team, you may want to consider combining practices of both Western and Eastern medicine. Western medicine offers the ability to dive deep into one system or diagnosis. Eastern philosophy tends to see the person as a whole with many layers or systems leading to the symptoms.
So how do you navigate these differences to maximize personal wellness?
Build a Team: You will likely need several people on this team. A primary care doctor, a naturopathic doctor, a skilled body practitioner (Rolfing, massage, acupressure or chiropractor), an energy practitioner (kinesiologist, acupuncturist, qi gong master) and a nutritionist are key persons that together offer a more complete perspective on health. For instance, I have had a recurring back pain that only resolved when I combined chiropractic, massage and energy work. Often you may find a practitioner who offers several of these areas of expertise. Finding excellent providers requires asking for referrals from friends and other providers you trust, then checking into the person’s credentials. It is entirely appropriate to think of your first visit as an interview or assessment, and to only return if you are reassured that provider is a good fit on your “team.”
Enable communication: When you meet with each new provider, ask if they are willing to coordinate their care with other wellness practitioners. Also, ask how they feel about your personal research and bringing questions to discuss. Often their response is an indicator of a good fit. If they are not supportive, keep looking for someone to fill that position. Providers are not paid for the extra time talking to your other team-members, so be willing to facilitate by sending emails or bringing records for each of them to see. One of my most organized patients brings a color-coded list of all her supplements and medications to each visit – coded to the person who prescribed each item and the providers’ phone numbers listed at the bottom. This makes it easy when I want to suggest a change as I can call the involved provider and collaborate on alternatives.
Ask for feedback: When seeing each provider, share what you have done with other wellness team members and ask if there is something more that you should work on to be most healthy. Then share that information at your other visits.
Adjust when needed: Be willing to make changes when something is not working. Certainly, much of our activities to become well take repetition and persistence. But if you have a sense of things not going well, or a nagging sense of discomfort with a person on your wellness team, move on and make an adjustment. Believe yourself! You have the most total and intimate knowledge of yourself, and you have the power to assemble a team of people to help you be the best and most well version of you!
Dr. Jeralyn Brossfield is the Director of the Eisenhower Wellness Institute and can be reached at (760) 610.7360.