A naturopathic practitioner can be likened to a general practitioner of natural medicine – they are multi-disciplinary and trained to degree level, and often beyond, in human anatomy and physiology as well as a number of therapeutic modalities.
A naturopathic practitioner applies their skills based on two major philosophies: the recognition of a vital force driving life and a holistic approach to their clients, the whole person being greater than the sum of their parts.
Furthermore, the naturopath practises according to the major tenets of their profession: the healing power of nature, treating the whole person and recognizing their uniqueness, treating the cause and not just the symptoms, doing no harm, acting as a teacher to educate their clients and promoting health and wellness.
The General Naturopathic Council defines naturopathic education in its syllabus to include a number of core therapeutic modalities: naturopathic nutrition, detoxification, physical therapy (such as massage, yoga, manual lymphatic drainage, Bowen therapy, Hijama therapy, Shiatsu, etc.), hydrotherapy, psychosocial skills and healthy lifestyle requirements for good health.
Many naturopaths undertake further training in their chosen specialities which could include acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic, herbal medicine, osteopathy, iridology, Traditional Chinese Medicine or various forms of energy medicine. This enables their practise to be multi-modality, and it is common to find naturopaths practising two or more therapies in their efforts to help clients restore their health.
All naturopaths take a complete case history on a first appointment: this would include the chief complaint details, health history, family history, social history, an assessment of the constitution, diet and habits. Based upon the information gathered, a naturopathic assessment would be made and a therapeutic plan drawn up, with client informed consent. Any treatment, some of which could be passive (i.e. applied, such as manipulation, massage, etc.) and some active requiring compliance, such as dietary changes, would be reviewed according to progress in subsequent appointments and refined accordingly.
Above all, naturopaths are good listeners and in touch with the natural rhythm of life, balance and nature – physical, spiritual and mental.