Top 10 Tips (I Wish I Had Known) for Evaluating Integrative and Holistic Health Care Providers

When I began my journey with a brain tumor at the age of 24, I knew nothing about cancer or how to choose quality integrative and holistic health care, providers. After two awake brain surgeries in 1998 and 2011, four major integrative cancer care protocols and countless other therapies and providers, my experiences have taught me ways to navigate and make better choices. Some episodes and chapters have not been easy, yet I see challenges and crisis as opportunities to learn and grow.

I wish I had known more almost 14 years ago when I started this journey. At times I haven’t chosen quality health providers, but over the years, I learned to better assess, make choices and re-evaluate.

How can you evaluate an integrative and holistic healthcare provider? Consider using these tips to make the best decisions. Some providers who work with cancer patients do not need training for the disease type. That’s why these tips apply to a range of integrative and holistic health care providers useful for people with and without cancer.

1. Qualifications and Experience

Know who you are with and where they came from. What is their degree, certification, length of training, time in practice, number of patients treated, and most importantly, why did they choose their field?

2. Success

What have been their results with the number of patients they’ve treated? What is their definition of their treatment success and how does that compare with your definition? Make sure you are given accurate information from a provider with integrity. Be clear to avoid any confusion later.

3. Passion vs. Substance

What is the methodology and foundation for their practice? Providers sometimes express more passion about their work versus substance. This may cloud a therapeutic relationship, including a patient’s ability to know the value of the treatments.

4. Study Results & Evidence-Based Medicine

How many research studies evaluated treatments used by the provider? What are the results? Ask the provider and also look for published studies. Seek providers offering evidence-based medicine that combines research results with the provider’s clinical expertise as well as patient values and expectations. Know that while this applies to many high-tech integrative and holistic health providers, some low-touch therapies are not evaluated through studies for many reasons, including the cost of clinical trials.

5. Individualized & Patient-Centered Care

Do they treat patients as individuals and give customized care, or is it general knowledge and one-size fits all? Is their attitude “my way, or the highway”? Does the provider support and guide you to self-care and decision-making? Do they provide patient-centered care? Find providers with these essential holistic and integrative health care components.

6. Integrity, Consistency, & Reliability

Are they consistent in what they say and do, or do they continually suggest new experimental therapies without any positive study results? Do they walk their talk? Are they available outside of appointment times in case of an emergency?

7. Empowerment

Is the provider empowering and guiding you to find power and wisdom within, or do they want you to rely on them fully? True healers teach and inspire people to become their own healers.

8. Finances

Are the provider’s fees appropriate to their qualifications and services? Providers must earn a living, but many therapies are not covered by insurance and then paid out of pocket. Take the time upfront to ask questions about money so you can make a fully informed decision.

9. Boundaries

Is the provider appropriately leaving their private life outside of the treatment room? Appropriate boundaries between providers and patients must be established and maintained so that your needs are the focus of this therapeutic relationship.

10. Trust Yourself

Does the provider and treatment feel right to you? Trust your intuition and instinct! Moving on is better than staying with a provider and continuing a treatment that is not conducive to your health and healing.