“How Do I Know If I’ve Found a ‘good’ homeopath?”
The above question appeared on the Hpathy Discussion Board (now archived). It’s the kind of question that crops up so often, I thought it was high time we tackled it! I’ve asked a group of professional homeopaths to share their thoughts. I give you now:
Diane Fuller, DHom
The best way to choose a homeopath, in my opinion, is on the recommendation of somebody who has had good results from that homeopath.
In the end it is “By their fruits you know them.”
Often a prospective patient will ask, “How many cases have you cured?” or, “How many cases of [name your disease] have you cured?” Its hard to know how many cases are “cured”. I guess that depends on what you mean by “cure”. A lot depends on the vital force, or immune system. The right remedy can be given and a weak body may not respond to it. And then, if the patient ends up being 75% stronger than before the remedies, but the wart on the big toe is still there, which is what the person wanted “cured” – how do you rate that?
Sometimes when people come in, you give them a remedy and never hear from them again – then you might meet them in 5 or so years and they tell you – “Oh, by the way – my stomach problems cleared up after that remedy and I have been fine ever since.”
Who has the time to keep track of percentages? I don’t find it a legitimate question. Would they ask a medical doctor the same thing? I don’t think so.
And also, just because you have given remedies to 25 people with hemorrhoids, and all of them were cured that doesn’t mean that you will have the same result with the 26th person.
What about compliance? How do you know that in the cases that weren’t cured, the people took their remedy as you told them?
I just answer the questions people ask – most don’t ask too many. I think by the time some of them get to homeopathy, they are pretty desperate and don’t care about anything except being helped – some aren’t even interested in how it works, they just want it to work. Others on the other hand want to learn all they can about it and that’s fine with me.
Carolyn Ramos, DIHom
As for choosing a practitioner, I think you have to have a strong connection with the person. When you talk to a new practitioner that you are considering taking on as YOUR professional, you must have some ‘sympatico’, something that tells you ‘yes, I can talk to this person and feel heard’. As well, having practiced for some time, such as 5 years, say, and regularly upgrading skills by taking seminars also helps. These things need to be something you ask when you are interviewing.
I think there SHOULD be an interview by the patient of the homeopath. This is an important job and both have to be aware of the requirements and considerations of the other.
As a homeopath, I think you need to answer what you are comfortable with. How many cases have you cured? – what is the definition of a cure? Have you made people feel better and happy with their treatment? Different people mean different things when talking about cure. I think you need to sit down with the client and discuss her concerns while not neccesarily filling out a questionnaire. It does give you interesting rubrics to think about, doesn’t it though, if someone hands you a lengthy questionnaire to fill out!!!
Treating specific diseases will not ensure that you are able, in the same way, to cure HER disease. Most clients don’t understand that you don’t need to have seen it before to treat it.
Shelley Epstein, DMV
Seriously, I think the practitioners, unfortunately for them, have to be there 24/7 in case of an aggravation or other ailment that comes up and needs immediate attention.
I do phone consults for people like this. They pay me for them, as my time is valuable and I’d spend 1/2 my life doing phone consults. When the prospective client asks if you cure this or that disease, he or she is thinking allopathically and just needs to hear your voice, be calmed down by you and the conversation, and then make a decision. If the client is pushy and demanding information and statistics, you don’t want to keep such a client anyway.
Dr. Gabrielle Traub
A good practitioner has many characteristics and different patients have different needs.
For me, it is:
At least 5 years of experience, treating at least 100 new patients per year for the first 5 years.
Continues to keep updated with reading and attending conferences on homeopathy and medicine.
Has a sound knowledge of pathology and medicine and knows when to refer to other health care practitioners.
Has good boundaries and acts in a professional manner at all times.
Is punctual and does what he or she says they are going to do.
One who is approachable, listens to you and makes you feel at ease.
Keep accurate notes and maintains your file for a minimum of 3 years after your last visit.
One who always has your best interest in mind.
Alan Schmukler, CITT
Re: choosing a practitioner. My advice would be:
1. If its a physician homeopath, he/she should have homeopathy as 100% of their
practice and not a sideline.
2. Find someone who has been at it for as long as possible.
3. Ask if he/she is a classical homeopath and if he says, “what do you mean?” find someone else.
4. Call the study group in your area and ask who they use.
Dr. Leela D’Souza
How to Go About Selecting a Homeopath?
When I put myself in the shoes of a patient, as we all are at some point, there are some definite criteria I look for in a doctor/homeopath I want to entrust my ill self to. These criteria in order of priority are:
1. I feel a bond of trust with the practitioner.
2. I feel confident about the ability and knowledge of the practitioner.
3. I feel comfortable discussing what is troubling me so that I sense that the practitioner understands what I’m saying.
As a doctor myself, I know that it was a process of maturity to fulfill the points above. I decided to asnwer this question in a manner that would give, first us homeopaths reason to reflect. So here are some criteria a homeopath would need:
For Point 1:
a) To learn to be spiritually and emotionally calm, whatever my personal problems as a practitioner.
b) To respect the need for confidentiality and for privacy with each person.
c) NEVER make moral judgements about a patients actions or words that are reflected to him/her.
For point 2:
a) Adequate training in the foundational principles of homeopathy and disease (medical education) through a reliable course structure.
b) Adequate clinical experience in order to understand the management of patients and their diseases wisely as this can be completely different from book knowledge of diseases.
c) Committed to practicing the art and science of homeopathy in the way that the founder intended it to be practiced – for healing/cure in a gentle manner, realizing one is taking on a responsibility of the life and trust of another person.
For Point 3:
a) One’s understanding of the principles of homeopathic treatment in terms of the case one is working with should be thorough, so that one is able to explain to the patient the progress of treatment when needed and at suitable junctures.
b) Develop a clinical etiquette so that one remains approachable to questions and answer a patient effectively and positively during the treatment process.
c) Emotional growth and knowledge of oneself are important aspects for a homeopathic physician due to the type of case taking and analysis required. This is necessary in order that one remains an “Unprejudiced Observer“, an attribute which forms the basis of good homeopathic prescribing.
Elaine Lewis, DHom
In looking for a homeopath, if the practitioner has initials after his or her name indicating that he or she graduated from a school of homeopathy, this is a very good sign. An example of such initials might be: RSHom, DHom, CHom, CCH, DHANP, DIHom, MFHom, and there are others as well. The trouble comes when there are no such initials to go on. That does not mean that the practitioner is not good, but it does mean that you have to ask a few questions in order to verify that he or she really is a classical homeopath. You could ask for references; which is to say, you would like the email addresses of three of his patients so that you can confer with them. When you talk to them, you want to make sure that the homeopath prescribed a single remedy and not a combination remedy or a bunch of remedies at once–though I’m sure in certain kinds of illnesses, like multiple pathologies, there might be an exception to that rule. You want to make sure that the homeopath didn’t prescribe a high-potency remedy to be taken more than once, like, daily, weekly, or several times a day or week. A high potency–a 200C or higher (1M, 10M, 50M, CM)–only needs to be given one time in a chronic case, after which you’re supposed to wait a decent interval, possibly a month, to get results. It should be repeated only when the effects start to wear off. Low potencies, however, may be repeated often. A low potency is a 6, 9 or 12C and can be repeated once or more than once a day if needed.
Let me conclude by saying that all I can help you do is find a “homeopath”. Any homeopath, by definition, is a “good” homeopath in the sense that he has graduated from a school of homeopathy, continues to study, as nearly all of us do; but being a homeopath does not mean that he or she will necessarily be able to solve your case.
It is possible that the remedy you need hasn’t been discovered yet–doesn’t exist in our pharmacy or perhaps not a lot is known about it. It is possible that you’ve left out a key piece of information that would have shed light on your case if only you hadn’t been too shy to talk about it. It is possible that the causative factor in your case happened when you were so young that you can’t remember it. It is possible that there is a “maintaining cause” that keeps the case going–drug use, over-work, sleep deprivation, or use of alcohol; I met a lung cancer patient once who refused to stop smoking.
Moreover, it is not unusual that in seeking homeopathic help, an individual goes to several homeopaths before finding the help that he or she needs. I’ve done that myself. It doesn’t mean that all the other homeopaths were bad. I feel that all the remedies that were prescribed for me by all the homeopaths I saw were excellent choices that made perfect sense to me but they just didn’t work. Most people’s cases are badly complicated by multiple etiologies (so many possible causes), multiple diseases and delayed treatment, making cure very difficult even by the best in the business.
That having been said, I would have three areas of concern when choosing a homeopath:
1. Do they know how to stop an aggravation? (See Diane’s and my article, “The Aggravation Zapper”, it’s on my website.)
2. Do they start every case with a high potency as a matter of course? I do not agree to this because aggravations are caused, the patient gets upset, the practitioner often responds in an unhelpful way, it’s very bad for the profession and the case is often lost. I tend to start chronic cases off with a 6C three times a day in water with a few succussions before each dose, as it says to do in The Organon, raising the potency as needed. It’s safer this way.
3. Do they prescribe one remedy at a time and wait to evaluate it’s action before changing remedies? Prescribing many remedies at once would not be classical, and as Alan said above, if your homeopath cannot answer the question, “Are you a classical homeopath?” (which means, do you practice as per The Organon by Samuel Hahnemann), find someone else.
In thinking of these questions, I have tried to ask myself, “What can go wrong?” and can the homeopath prevent a case from going from bad to worse by prudent prescribing methods and by knowledge of antidoting techniques?
Even so, there are a lot of reasons why even a well-trained homeopath may not be able to help you; don’t be discouraged. Your homeopath will probably say, “I’d like to refer you to someone else,” and you should readily accept and not feel that homeopathy can’t help you, but only that that particular practitioner couldn’t get a handle on your case; remember that most cases that come in the door are very complex, a long time in the making, and homeopathy itself is not an easy discipline.
I think word of mouth is the best reference you can get. I tend to think that having a diploma and having a title is not a sufficient guarantee that the homeopath is any good; but, cured cases and happy clients are a good indication.
In the US particularly, people have to understand that they may need to drive quite a distance to go to a good homeopath.
Also, people tend to ask if they’ve treated your condition before and what their success rate is. Some very famous homeopath whom I shall not mention (because I can’t remember who it was – maybe Andre Saine or Will Taylor or Paul Herscu) said the correct answer to that question is, “I hope not, since everyone is unique!”
Something else that a lot of people do is wait to try homeopathy until after everything else has failed. They’ve been doing multiple modalities for years with no success. Then when the first homeopathic remedy doesn’t cure them in a month, they give up. They need to be patient and work with the homeopath – assuming it’s a good one. Oh, that’s what started all this, wasn’t it?
Say goodnight, Shirley!
Wait a minute, Elaine, something just came to me! Ask about their philosophy. Do they use multiple remedies at a time, multiple modalities? Those are both no-nos! At what point will they refer the client to someone else? How long do they spend with a person the first time? They should spend two hours or so and take a complete case, covering the physical, mental and emotional aspects of the person as well as the family history. Do they have any medical training or do they have a medical support person available if needed? I think good referral is the best. Goodnight, Shirley.
Barb Martorana, ND
When choosing a homeopath you need to feel that you are comfortable with him or her. You need to be able to discuss your case fully and that can include embarrassing or intimate details. It is important that you are comfortable enough around your homeopath to be able to open up.
Also, your homeopath should have a support system of colleagues and mentors that they can turn to in difficult cases. It can be very helpful to have others opinions on a case. Along with this is that your homeopath must have a sense of humility so that they are willing to ask for help on a case if they need it. You have a right to ask your homeopath how long they expect for you to wait to see results and if you are not getting results what will they do for you. Will they recommend another homeopath? Will they consult with their peers?
Of course I agree with all the other suggestions about making sure the homeopath prescribes one remedy at a time in the lowest effective dose.
Homeopathy for Everyone wishes to thank all the wonderful homeopaths who gave of their time and contributed; thanks so much, everyone!