Thursday, 19 September 2013
Classifying your therapist...
I have been watching a load of TED talks recently, researching stuff that my friend GMS might find helpful in understanding the huge and wide area of "things to do with the brain". I came across this talk at about 4 am this morning and was actually shouting at the screen "Why don't you talk about therapists?". This was probs not the best thing to do to HWISO at that time of the morning but, in my defence, I did have my earphones on and didn't realise I was shouting.....
So the idea for the blog was born and I think it goes across the whole spectrum of accessing Health Care but you will have to understand that I know Eating Disorder World best so most of my examples will come from there.
The Good Guys
These are the ones who have qualifications, an enquiring mind, read and assimilate the latest research, are open to changing and tweaking their treatments with new discoveries and capable of dropping parts of their treatment protocols that just aren't working. They are unusually receptive to patients and parents, patient in their explanations but can be frank.
Top of the list comes my oncologist, Dr Woodward and the ED team at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children
Others that come highly recommended by the Forum can be accessed, if you are a member of the forum, via the Feedback on Treatment Providers forum.
(I want to give a big "up" here to various of my friends and heroes across the world but that may be unethical.)
Feathers and Beads Providers (mostly harmless but not worth the dollars)
In Eating Disorder World, these are people who have often had an eating disorder and decide that their own particular path to enlightenment and recovery or the fact that they have learned to "live with their eating disorder" means that this is the magic key for every other person who has an eating disorder. They become self-styled "therapists" and (often) take correspondence therapy courses and hang a nice certificate on the wall to say they are "qualified".
Non-ed readers will have come across similar "evangelists" in other areas of 'Medicine' - the "apricot kernels cure cancer" merchants, being among the most dangerous. (Apricot kernels are what they make cyanide from, People. It kills cancer cells, sure. It kills other cells as well....). The homeopathic pill takers. The wheatgrass drinkers. The ones you sit next to at a dinner party who say that your bad back can be "cured" by Pilates - note: only if you have the same type of "bad back" as them. If you have a slipped disc or osteoporosis, it is always best to take proper medical advice first. I love Pilates and it has certainly helped me in the past. However, no decent Pilates instructor is going to welcome someone with a serious medical condition into their class, without being forewarned and understanding fully their condition. Not everyone who has stomach ache has IBS and is allergic to wheat or dairy or plankton!
So, for the most part, what these non-medical people are offering is what worked for them, without any real knowledge or understanding of physiology. They are very persuasive and evangelical. I would not take their advice. If they are offering any kind of psychiatric/psychological advice, without proper training, RUN FOR THE HILLS. Really. They have no training and are not interested in you and your problems. They are interested in converting you to their particular religion and boosting their self-esteem.
For the most part, these people are well-meaning and not out to scam you. They generally don't make millions out of their business and genuinely want to help.
The Bunkum & Woo Merchants (aka The Dangerous Ones)
These people are dangerous on two levels. They are often qualified and they know a bit about what they do but a bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. They are the opposite of the Good Guys
"an enquiring mind, read and assimilate the latest research, are open to changing and tweaking their treatments with new discoveries and capable of dropping parts of their treatment protocols that just aren't working. They are usually receptive to patients and parents, patient in their explanations but can be frank."
They are closed minded, have fixed ideas of what an eating disorder is, have a fixed routine, haven't read a research paper in decades, refuse to see patients as individuals, nod when they "listen" to you but don't actually hear what you say, want to convert you to their cause like the F&B guys above, never give you a straight answer, spout a load of psychobabble and are wishy washy in their explanations.
Why they are so dangerous is that they are there to scam your money as well. If you are in the US and paying for providers like this, they stand to make a LOT of money out of your insurance company AND you - they have lots of "add-ons" of branded stuff to buy to "help you on your journey to wellness".
Probably the most famous UK example of this is Gillian McKeith, taken down so spectacularly by Ben Goldacre in this article. She made a lot of money out of making everyone believe that they should be thin and eat chlorophyll.
“In laboratory experiments with anaemic animals, red-blood cell counts have returned to normal within four or five days when chlorophyll was given,” she says. Her reference for this experimental data is a magazine called Health Store News. “In the heart,” she explains, “chlorophyll aids in the transmission of nerve impulses that control contraction.”
Top of my US list is Gregg Jantz, who has the chutzpah to sell religion alongside his crassly unkind treatment. He has also opened a centre in Ecuador so he probably gets the whole American continental thing.
"We believe and understand that Hope is available for every person. In 24 years of treatment, we’ve seen countless miracles of God’s grace, manifested through our whole-person care for addictions and other issues."
I am sure my readers will supply me with plenty of others, both in and outside of Eating Disorder world.
My advice would be to research heavily not only your provider and their qualifications, but also the latest research into your condition. That way you will know whether your clinician is a GG, an FBM or whether you should run screaming from the room as fast as possible.
PS, Just in case you have never seen the famous photograph, here's the link.