|Many successful business people admit they aren’t skilled in all areas of business – no one can be. But they focus on doing what they do well, and surround themselves with experts in the other areas. The same principle applies to healing arts practice. If you’re like me, you didn’t come into this field with a strong business background. I was a full-time musician. While it’s important to develop good practice management skills, and be well-versed in the many aspects of your business, you can’t master everything. “Many hands make light work.” It’s essential to gather around yourself those who can advise you in key areas. They will make up for your gaps, and provide the business and clinical support that a well-rounded practitioner relies on. They can be broken down into two teams:
Your Professional Team:
Psychologist or Psychotherapist: All chronic health conditions have a mental/emotional component. While all healing arts practitioners should learn basic counseling skills, it is not our job to be a client’s psychotherapist. For patients whose mental/emotional difficulties are beyond what our empathic listening and support can encompass, we have an ethical responsibility to refer them to a good counselor. I don’t recommend referral to a psychiatrist (MD); they tend to rely more on pharmaceutical intervention than on counseling. And a trained psychologist (PhD) or psychotherapist (MSW/CSW) can accurately assess the need for drug therapy.
Take your time and choose your professional team carefully. To a patient, how good these clinicians are will reflect on you as much as on them. Also, referring a patient to a practitioner often results in referrals back to you. Developing a team of practitioners in other fields is in keeping with the principles of wholism. It allows you to draw on the vast combined knowledge of many other health professionals, and develops an often-lacking sense of community among individual clinicians.
This article appeared in the Meridian Times magazine of the Acupuncture Society of New York.
Copyright © 2002 Michael C. Gaeta. All rights reserved.