In A Consultation

What should you expect when you visit a practitioner? Once you’ve chosen the appropriate therapy and practitioner, what can you expect to happen in a typical consultation?

Health History

In a typical consultation, the practitioner will start by asking you to complete a questionnaire and answer various detailed questions about your health. These may cover diet, lifestyle, digestion, urine and stools, menstrual function, sleep patterns and so on.


Depending on the type of therapy you’re having, your tongue, pulse, eyes and/or abdomen may be examined. These examinations are based on the principle of microdiagnosis, whereby a part of the body is held to reflect the health of the body as a whole. For example, in the tongue diagnosis of traditional Chinese medicine, the central part of the tongue is linked to the digestive system. With pulse-taking in Ayurvedic, Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese medicine, different finger positions along the radial artery at the wrist are used to determine the functioning of each of the internal organs. In some of the manipulative therapies, such as osteopathy and chiropractic, the spine, posture and movement of the joints may be examined.

Further Tests

Naturopaths, nutritional therapists and clinical ecologists may use blood tests, laboratory hair analysis and electronic allergy testing to determine vitamin and mineral deficiencies, allergies and intolerances. Manipulative therapists, such as osteopaths and chiropractors, may use x-rays, check blood pressure and test muscle reflexes with a hammer.

Other forms of testing include muscle testing on the body, as in kinesiology, and radionic testing with a measuring device or pendulum to indicate physical, mental and emotional imbalances, used by radionic practitioners and some naturopaths.

Healers sometimes use hand-scanning techniques or extra sensory perception (ESP) to investigate the magnetic field (or aura) around the body. This is believed to be closely linked to a person’s state of health, with disease being reflected as different colours or vibrations within the aura. Kirlian photography, which is said to take pictures of this energy field, is sometimes used too.

Although many of these diagnostic techniques are widely used, some remain unproven and aren’t necessarily accepted by the medical or scientific professions. Don’t be afraid to ask the practitioner to explain the type of test being done and its level of accuracy.

Most professionally trained complementary practitioners have been taught to recognise signs of serious disease that require conventional medical diagnosis and treatment. In such cases you’ll be referred to your GP for further diagnosis. Symptoms such as unexplained lumps or swellings, changes in bowel or bladder function, passing of blood, chest pain or difficulty breathing or swallowing, should always be investigated by a medical doctor.

Always inform your complementary practitioner of any medication and medical treatment you may be having and inform your doctor about complementary treatments to ensure an integrated approach to your health.