As health practitioners, we desire to see our clients achieve their goals. Health coaches, personal trainers, nutritionists, naturopaths, functional doctors, and holistic practitioners dedicate their lives to helping others look and feel their best. It is their purpose, their passion, and their gift. They pride themselves on producing results. Seeing a client’s transformation is, quite possibly, one of their greatest rewards. Conversely, when a client struggles and does not reach his or her goal, despite their best efforts, good practitioners can take this as a personal defeat. You know those clients that seem to be doing everything right, but just aren’t getting the results that you both expect? Perhaps you have had a client like this, or have been one, yourself. They eat the right foods, put all the effort into their workouts, and follow your well-planned protocol to a “T,” yet, progress is very slow to come by, or possibly doesn’t come at all.
Why is it that the very same tried and true protocols that worked seamlessly so many times before are now backfiring, perhaps even doing more harm than good? Rather than pulling your hair out and spinning your wheels, or even worse, blaming the client for lack of compliance, take a step back and think about what you are truly trying to accomplish, and seek to uncover what is getting in your client’s way.
Most good health practitioners are very well versed at understanding the goal to be accomplished. It might be weight loss, increased energy, an improved mood, digestive issues, or any number of possible health goals. Once the goal is set, a plan is carefully devised, and the work begins. Good practitioners often have many tools at their disposal to help a client get results. They understand the importance of proper nutrition and are well versed in a variety of diets and therapeutic nutrition plans to suit a clients’ needs. They understand the benefits of exercise and can coach their clients through some very effective routines. Good practitioners also place a high value on sleep and other lifestyle behaviors that might be contributing to the health complaint they are working on.
When working with a good practitioner, clients can see their health improve from the very first appointment. The positive changes they made in diet, movement, and lifestyle will undoubtedly result in a positive push towards the ultimate goal of optimum health. The problem is, the majority of personal trainers, nutritionists, health coaches, and wellness practitioners lack the tools and training to take their clients across the finish line and beyond.
So what makes good practitioners great?
The most successful health practitioners focus on function, balance, and the restoration of optimal health through the use of therapeutic protocols that encourage an individual’s inherent self-healing process. They are compassionate, knowledgeable, and can confidently coach their clients in each of the five pillars of health, which include: diet, rest, exercise, stress reduction, and supplementation. Most importantly, they have the ability to look beyond the face value of the client’s health complaints and uncover the root causes of these problems.
- Health Detectives
Great practitioners understand that rebuilding health is a process and that often there is more than one cause to uncover. This is, quite possibly, the single greatest thing that separates the “good” from the “great.” Many times, multiple, seemingly unrelated dysfunctions are at the root of health conditions.
A good practitioner knows to look for the root cause, and they may even understand how to run and interpret some key diagnostic lab tests to find underlying imbalances. They use the lab results to develop a program for their clients to target the dysfunctions found, which usually produces some good results. The problem is, they don’t use all the clues that are in front of them. Great practitioners, like great detectives, will continue to dig, finding and addressing each dysfunction as they uncover it, while continuing to seek out additional healing opportunities. They lead their clients towards consistent progress, educate along the way, and insist on testing and retesting, before, during, and after the protocol. In tough cases, only through a process of testing, healing, retesting, and course correction can one truly restore optimum health.
Many good practitioners out there run labs, but only the great ones know how to use the results to find clinical correlation with the client. Great practitioners treat the whole person and their uniqueness, not the disease or the test results. They look at all aspects of the person: their background, experiences, genetic biases, spiritual and emotional state, environmental circumstances, etc. There is no standard protocol or pre-determined regimen by which everyone must abide. Treatment must match each person’s unique biochemical singularity. Great practitioners understand that medicine is an art as well as a science, and true healing takes time, consistency, and continual course correction. Great practitioners also speak from experience. Not just experience working with other clients, but personal experience as a client, themselves. Having worked through their own health issues and using some of the very tools and techniques that they are coaching their clients through allows them a better insight and awareness as to what their clients are experiencing. Great practitioners are usually found to be walking the talk.
Good practitioners have healing protocols for a variety of conditions. Exercises for arthritis, anti-candida diets, supplements for hot flashes, and homeopathic remedies for allergies are all wonderful, but only in conjunction with a complete healing protocol that addresses the function of the body as a complete system. Great practitioners aim to treat the whole person and not focus on a specific condition. They recognize that every cell in the body affects every other cell. They view the body as a holistic organism, in which all systems and functions of the body influence and are influenced by one another. Great practitioners may not always take the fastest or most direct route to addressing a health complaint; instead, they carefully work to heal the complex symphony of interrelated components that are greater than the sum of its parts. Shortcuts in healthcare tend to produce short-term results.
- Innate Intelligence and Homeostasis
A good practitioner knows which foods to eat and which supplements to take to avoid and reverse certain unfavorable health conditions and will walk clients through therapeutic diets and supplement protocols to improve their health. Great practitioners recognize the body as a self-healing, self-regulating organism with an innate intelligence and capacity to maintain homeostasis. They understand that given the right support and care, the body will be able to return to optimal function with minimal external intervention. Throughout the healing process, great practitioners assess, test, and re-evaluate a given protocol, modifying as the client begins to make progress. Great practitioners understand how to use their tools in a way that identifies and removes obstacles to recovery and gently guides and assists the body in healing itself.
- Prevention, Education and Responsibility
A great practitioner seeks to promote the health and wellbeing of their patients by emphasizing the principle of prevention and responsibility. The prevention of disease through education is the most compassionate and humane way of providing healthcare. The Latin origin of doctor is “docere,” which means “to teach.” Great health practitioners are first and foremost health educators. They educate clients about their current health issues, the underlying causes, and how to return to health. Knowledge is power when a person fully comprehends their current state and the consequences of their actions. Compliance goes up, and long-term health-sustaining behaviors are actually adopted. Great practitioners coach up the principles of self-reliant, self-care until their services are no longer needed, and clients are maintaining good health for themselves and their families. That is why great practitioners consistently get referrals and are viewed as integral members of the healthcare community.
- Dedication to Continued Learning
Good practitioners might base their businesses around a very specific protocol or modality. Great health practitioners do not accept the dogma of any one system or approach. They are open minded, inquisitive and committed to life-long learning and continuous professional education. Given the current body of knowledge and pace of scientific and clinical advancement, it is the responsibility of every modern health practitioner to seek out the most current and cutting-edge education and training available.
Great practitioners have the satisfaction of knowing they are providing their clients with the best possible solutions for that individual and are rewarded with consistent clinical outcomes. Along with continued success comes a great reputation, constant referrals, and a very nice paycheck!
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