What is naturopathy?
The word “naturopathy” was created from Latin and Greek roots meaning “natural healing”. Not surprising, naturopathy is one of the oldest forms of medicine, and its origins can be traced back as far as Ancient Greece.
Naturopathic medicine favours a holistic approach to healing, employing a vast array of natural treatments to uncover and treat illness, as well as maintain physical, emotional, and mental health.
What does a naturopath actually do?
Each naturopath will practice their craft slightly differently depending on what they choose to focus on whilst studying. For example, some naturopaths are interested in the use of foods and nutrition to heal ailments, whilst others may focus more on using flowers and herbs as medicines.
In a typical appointment with a naturopath, they will ask the patient what their diet is, often take a blood sample and examine the tongue and eyes for any sign(s) of illness. They’ll also ask for the patients’ medical history, as well as their sleep patterns and mental and emotional state of health.
Using this information, the naturopath will create a unique treatment plan for the patient formulated using a mix of diet and lifestyle changes, as well as herbal medication suggestions if necessary. They’ll give the patient an approximate time frame of when they should start to see results, and generally encourage a check-up within the next four weeks following the first appointment.
What skills do I need to learn to become a naturopath?
1. Active listening
Naturopaths must give complete attention to what their patient is saying and listen without prejudice or judgement. They’ll ask questions at the right time and then draw up a treatment plan that best reflects the patients’ needs.
Perth-based naturopath Gordon Carruthers says, “I like to spend an hour with my patients when I first meet them and allow 45 mins for every appointment thereafter. This gives me time to get to know my patients. I consider this very important… [it] has shown that the relationship with the patient, not the modality that is used is what proves most beneficial.”
2. A solid understanding of science
Naturopaths and doctors are trained in a similar fashion initially. Carruthers explains, “Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, Pathogenesis and Pharmacology take up the initial years then Naturopaths branch out into the more eclectic subjects such as Iridology, Herbalism, Homoeopathy, and Nutrition…”. The combination of these subjects allow naturopaths a comprehensive and balanced understanding of how the human body works, the causes of specific ailments and illnesses and the different ways to treat and manage these.
3. Problem solving
After actively listening to their patients’ problem(s), wants, and needs a naturopath must, relying on their scientific knowledge, use problem solving and deductive reasoning to find the best possible treatment for the client.
These are a few (but certainly not all) skills you’ll learn when studying naturopathy. These in particular, will help you develop a sound understanding of the course as well as the confidence needed when dealing with sensitive issues. If you already excel a some of these skills, or you’d like to learn them, then naturopathy may be the perfect course for you!