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  • Writer's pictureMARY LIGHT ND MH LMT

Assessment Used in Naturopathy

I have observed quite a number of assessment methods over the years , used by natural medicine practitioners. Some of them bypass the demonstration of performing of actual clinical skills such as intakes and hands-on assessment. Some are, frankly, ridiculous. Some are very limited in utility, and some are subjective and therefore not grounded in objective, measurable reality. Some seem designed to mesermize : " I saw that on a maaaa- chiiine". (but what was happening, really?). Let us recall that while we do not "diagnose medical disease", we CAN ASSESS AND EVALUATE and this becomes our strength.

Here is how we teach to assess in the School- note the intentional inclusion of the word "learn" in these- we do not instantly become good at

assessment, just because we have a formula or method to follow, but we can with practice.

1. First of all learn to observe- without bias or projection of your own agenda. Dispassionate presence in meeting with clients is necessary to be able to see and meet their goals, along with the goals of natural health, and not just your own ideations. "Should " someone be eating a very certain way? "Should" someone cut a certain figure, or be able to touch their toes, or whatever? "Are" people really deficient in this and that? Will all clients comply to the same routine or recommendations?

2. Have several well designed intakes and learn to engage in a thorough intake as well as interpret it. An intake as we mention here is a written question- based document to gather data. As a person develops in the clinician realm, they learn to listen as well as refine their questions and questioning. A good general intake would include questions about a client's environment, stresses, goals, health history, any impediments to well being, occupation,

3. Learn and refine your skills in taking basic Vital Signs. You do not need a medical degree to take blood pressure , oximeter, heart rate, and other readings . Vital Signs refers to the very basics of physiological functioning at any one given time , with the absolute understanding that these readings can change. Moreover, most clients relate to them. Taking vital signs should be non -intrusive.

4. Be taught to palpate, and what that means, and what information body palpation can yield as to important wellness markers such as tension patterns, condition of elimination channels, and overall nutrition. Consumers are desirous of a practitioner who appears, and IS , well trained to physically evaluate. This, in part, is how the title "physician" came about. This is why we value naturopathic physical medicine training- to develop the above mentioned skills, and to confidently administer applied or directed natural therapeutics, such as castor oil packs, compresses, botanical applications, therapeutic movement, and more. This requires physical presence in a classroom , and attendance within a structured clinical internship within the training.

5. Create and use feedback loops with clients- they, after all, are the most important part of this process. What does this mean? If we offer the ability to SHOW, DISCUSS, AND DEMONSTRATE that which we are discovering and seeing, the client, sitting right there, will see that as well, and is also encouraged to interact. In other forms of health care (and disease care), what's happening with us is often one big secret. This has to end, and we do not wish to bring forward this paradigm into natural physician work. Examples of a feedback loop are

a) showing a client their iris photo on a screen while discussing what it means as to treatment, iris analysis being an assessment method.

b) Asking for, and documenting, their verbal feedback when palpating foot reflexes, meridians, and during other data gathering forms of naturopathic physical medicine such as a colon , or visceral organ, palpation.

c) Creating a Follow Up document for clients to use as a structure to journal or document any treatment outcomes. With this document created and given, with any necessary instructions for use, they are provided a guide and a prompt to engage in their rejuvenation path, instead of being passive.

Assessment should give you data, and also give any group or client clear mirroring and information on what is being discovered, worked with, and what results to expect. In order to work truly holistically we need to work co-creatively. We teach assessment grounded in a knowledge of basic anatomy and physiology, combined with an inclusion of the Eight Pillars and PEMS; Pems refers to observing what is happening physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually/subtle energy, and then integrating those observations into both evaluation and treatment.

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