The homeopathic therapeutic relationship – a patient-centered union

· homeopathy
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Guest Post Written by Uta Mittelstadt (The Author)

The alliance between homeopath and patient is a critical one. The homeopath, by way of the homeopathic principles, requires the patient to share, reveal, and convey in explicit detail the nature of what ails him [1]. The patient needs of the homeopath, in order to feel secure and prepared to share such intimate information, that he provides a trusting and comfortable space in the consultation.

The homeopathic consultation is one that differs to that exercised in conventional medical practice. It is dominated by the patient and not by the practitioner [click to tweet]. The contrary is customary in the encounter between conventional medicine practitioner and patient. Here the patient assumes a passive role while the general practitioner identifies what ails the patient and proposes a medicinal intervention [2].

The homeopathic patient-practitioner union is reliant on what the patient perceives as symptoms of the disease in his totality, and as such is, therefore, patient-led.

This fact alone does not suffice to provide a patient with trust and ease in the consultation. Such sensitive union requires other elements or ‘tools’ in order to ascertain to the patient that his encounter with the practitioner is a safe and comfortable space. Person-centered qualities may facilitate what is necessary to establish such features in this union.

The ‘person-centered approach’ was first described and explained as such by Carl Rogers, one of the initiators of the humanist approach to psychology [3]. In the field of psychology and counselling, the focus of the practitioner is on activating the patients’ most inert resources in order for growth to be achieved. The belief underlying this concept is that the patient knows best of his own needs. The practitioners’ sole role is to aid the patient in accessing or recognising these resources [4,5]. Homeopaths can, following the principles underlying homeopathic practice, as is outlined in the Organon of Medicine [1], borrow aspects from this approach in order to facilitate a comfort-zone to the patient, in the consultation. Yet, ‘patient-centered’ does not only mean that the focus is on the patient, his descriptions and narrations, but actually emphasises much more on the practitioner’s presence within the therapeutic encounter [6-8] .

Of the six core conditions that inform the person-centered approach, in application to a homeopathic context, the following descriptions are useful to the development of a functioning therapeutic relationship:

The practitioner has to be there, qualitatively, with the patient   in the consultation [6-8]. This he may express by being empathic and understanding towards the patient [7]. A form of mutual trust [4] of the practitioner and patient aids in abolishing discomfort and may provide security in the therapeutic union. This trust may be further deepened by the practitioners’ expression of acceptance and non-judgement towards the patient and his case. Termed the ‘unconditional positive regard’, this requisite is an acknowledgement of the fact that every individual’s actions are grounded on his very own personal reasons [9]. A practitioner may further deepen this trust if he is genuine toward the patient and if this is conveyed by the practitioners own authentic expressions arising from the patient’s descriptions in the consultation. The patient is then believed to be congruent towards the patient [10].

These attributes of the homeopathic practitioner may serve to create the ‘trusted zone’ for the patient, where he feels comfortable enough to disclose his ailing state in such detail as is relevant for the case-taking. Only if the idiosyncrasies, the most individual characteristics of the disease in the patient, by way of the patients own expressions, are reported, can the practitioner select the best matching remedy to suit the patient’s case [5].

A relationship that lacks trust and comfort may suffer from misinterpretation of the case-taking as the reported descriptions and expressions may have failed to inform the case sufficiently. The elements, native to the person-centered approach, are to an extent natural to the homeopathic patient-practitioner encounter, but the awareness of a patient-centered attitude that is expressed toward a patient, may facilitate its use as a tool to promote the creation of a trusted and comfortable union in the consultation.

References:

[1] Hahnemann, Samuel. (1974) Organon der Heilkunst (2.Auflage) 6B Heidelberg: Karl F. Haug Verlag.

[2] Hartog, C. (2009) Elements of effective communication-Rediscoveries from homeopathy. Patient education and counseling vol.77, pp.172-178.

[3] Casemore, R. (2006) Person-centered Counseling in a Nutshell Sage publications Ltd., London.

[4] Pörtner, M. (2000) Trust & Understanding: The person-centered approach to everyday care for people with special needs Ross-on-Wye. PCCS Books.

[5] Wilkins, P. (1999) The relationship in person-centered counseling. Chapter 3 INFeltham, C. (Ed.) (1999) Understanding the counseling relationship  Sage Publications Ltd., London.

[6] Lane, R., Koetting, M. and Bishop, J. (2002) Silence as communication in psychodynamic psychotherapy. Clinical psychology review vol.22, pp.1091-1104.

[7] Nacht, S. (1963) The non-verbal relationship in psycho-analytic treatment. The international journal of psychoanalysis vol.44, pp.334-339.

[8] Freshwater, D. and Stickley, T. (2006) The art of listening in the therapeutic relationship Mental health practice vol.9, No.5, pp.13-18.

[9] Tolan, J. (2003) Skills in person-centered counseling and psychotherapy Sage publications Ltd., London

[10] Merry, T. (1999) Learning and Being in Person-Centered Counseling Ross-on-Wye. PCCS Books, pp.85-117.

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About the author: Uta Mittelstadt

Uta Mittelstadt

Uta Mittelstadt

I was born in Germany but now settled in Portugal. I have studied homeopathy for many years, both in Portugal and in the UK. I have a B.Sc in Homeopathic Medicine and am currently writing the thesis for the M.Sc (Homeopathic Medicine) with the University of Central Lancashire, UK. I am passionate about homeopathy, run a blog, Clever Homeopathy. As a practitioner, I seek  to provide my patients with the best possible treatment for their reinstatement to health. I spend my free time painting landscapes in oil on canvas.

 


The above article was originally published by Uta Mittelstadt on her blog Clever Homeopathy on 11th Nov. 2012 and is republished here with her explicit permission. The Copyright is reserved with the author (Uta Mittelstadt). All opinions are that of the author.

The above Guest Post is the fourteenth in the GUEST BLOG SERIES. For reading previous Guest Posts check out https://drnancymalik.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/guest-blog-series

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6 Comments

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  1. Dr. Nancy Malik

    Thank you Uta for highlighting the importance of being patient-centered approach for a better and healthier patient-doctor relationship.

  2. Uta Mittelstadt

    Thank you Nancy!

  3. Bernadette Connolly

    What distinguishes the homeopathic therapeutic relationship?
    There is a very special characteristic required which was well described by Hahnemann. He stressed the importance of the homeopath attaining a state of unbiased/unpredjudiced observation. This demands daily renewal and as stated in the foregoing article to be ‘present’ with the patient – the quality of the patient – homeopath relationship has a determining influence on the outcome of the patient’s treatment – attentive listening without bias/predjudice remains the essential key to ‘unlocking the case’

    • Dr. Nancy Malik

      Thank You Bernadette for your keen observation. Being unbiased/unprejuidiced is central to ‘case receiving’. Regards

    • Uta Mittelstadt

      Yes Bernadette, quite right, I think it is in Aphorism 83 of the Organon, that Hahnemann long before the Person-centered approach was ‘found’ as such, stressed an unprejudiced expression toward the patient…

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