Over almost 12 years of dealing with chronic illness plus another 28 years of living, I’ve worked with many health practitioners. One of the harder things for me to face is when I have to fire a practitioner. In the case of general practitioners whom I only saw a few times a year, it wasn’t as big of a deal. I doubt they even noticed when I switched to another doctor. But when one is working with practitioners on a weekly basis, if not more frequently, intimate relationships develop that are harder to walk away from. Still, it’s important to move on if one’s health care providers are not meeting one’s needs.
In the past, I often felt guilt when I have left a practitioner, especially when it is someone who has a great reputation in the healing community. The guilt was because I felt like a failure because I couldn’t make the relationship with that practitioner work; that was an issue I had to work through to understand that there was no need for guilt. The truly best practitioners will not hold anger against you for moving on. They will know that you are now meant to work with someone else. Not every practitioner is right for every client or patient, and even if one practitioner is right for you at a certain point in your life, he/she/ze may not be right for you after a few years. We all grow and change.
Psychotherapists are one type of provider with whom it can be very hard to find the right person to work with. Sometimes you know right away that the match is good or bad, and sometimes it’s not as easy to figure out whether you should move on. When I was looking for a therapist in recent years, it took five therapists before I found the right one for me. The first woman I was with for five weeks, but she would just let me babble and stare at me before asking me generic questions like, “How do you feel about that?” I prefer my therapists to interact more with me and guide me in my healing. The second therapist was a wonderful woman whom I think will develop into an amazing practitioner, but she simply didn’t have the experience to work with someone dealing with my issues. Another therapist I saw lasted eight weeks, though I knew after four that I should leave. I was at a very stressful juncture in my life when I thought any therapist was better than no therapist. Unfortunately, that’s not true. This therapist was very patronizing and too emotionally detached from her clients. While she has a great reputation among other therapists in the area, she was not the right therapist for an intuitive empath for me. The fourth therapist I was with for four months; she was fabulous, and I still recommend her to others. However, we hit a juncture where her personal issues interfered with my treatment, and I knew it was time to move on because she was not going to be able to meet my needs. The final therapist who didn’t work out was one who immediately began to dump her issues on me, wanting me to heal her rather than her assisting me in my healing. It took only two weeks for me to see that she was far too toxic of a person for me to work with. After such a long road, the therapist I finally ended up with is an amazing woman whom I’ve worked with for three years. She’s helped me to grow and change in amazing ways. I’m grateful for all she’s taught me. The journey to find her was long, but it was worth it in the end.
One of the other lessons I’ve had to learn is that reputation not everything. Just because a person is supposedly “the best” in your area, that person may not be the best for you. When my twins were born, I saw a lactation consultant who is often considered the best (probably because she tells people she is). Unfortunately, she gave me a great deal of bad advice which created further problems with breastfeeding. It was actually the lactation consultants at Mom’s Place, a WIC center to support breastfeeding mothers, who helped repair and save my breastfeeding relationship with my twins. I will always be grateful for how much they helped me. Likewise, I spent many years seeing a local bodyworker who has an amazing reputation in the Austin healing community. However, she was just not the right person for me and my body. I’ve found others who have been able to make more progress in less time using the same modalities that she did.
The more frustrating situations for me to leave are ones wherein the practitioners are really talented and amazing people whose work I love but whose personalities become unbearable for me. I saw one bodyworker who did great work, but by the time I quit seeing her, I was leaving her office feeling judged and criticized every single time. I was resenting the time I was spending with her rather than benefitting from it. While she was well-meaning, it was time for me to set boundaries to protect my emotional self while still getting the physical care I needed. Likewise, another practitioner I saw was amazingly gifted but his ego began getting in the way of our work. He was unable to wrap his mind around the realities of my life, including my gluten sensitivities, and was issuing too much judgment about my personal life for me to continue seeing him. He’s someone whom I really miss seeing, but the emotional toxicity was just not supportive of healing for me. A third bodyworker I previously saw has narcissist personality disorder; she was suffocating to work with. After leaving all of these practitioners, I talked with other people who had the same experiences with them which helped me to understand it wasn’t my issues causing the difficulties in these situations.
I’ve also learned the hard way that when a practitioner physically hurts me, it’s absolutely time to leave. Second chances just end up causing me more trauma. In one case, I left my first appointment at a chiropractor’s office feeling emotionally and physically drained. By the time I got home, I was in awful physical pain. I had to get a massage therapist to fix what the chiropractor had done to me. So many others had sworn to me about this man’s healing ability, but I didn’t experience it. Fortunately, I had enough sense not to go back to him again. In other cases, it took me more than once to learn the lesson. There’s a local holistic dentist whom I saw for many years. I struggle with anesthetics not working properly for me which means dental work can be hellish at best if I don’t have a compassionate practitioner who is willing to listen to me and re-medicate frequently. This dentist was not patient, and he didn’t care if I was in pain. The first time when he was doing work, it hurt, but it wasn’t bad. The second time landed me in a PTSD state because the pain was so horrendous but yet he wouldn’t stop working on me because he told me that I was fine. Had I heeded the lesson the first time, I wouldn’t have put myself through the awful pain I endured the second.
Beyond physical and emotional pain, practitioners can also cause spiritual or metaphysical problems. It is VERY important never to let someone who is in an unhealthy altered state due to drugs and/or alcohol do metaphysical work involving contact on your body. I unfortunately learned this one the hard way as a practitioner I had been seeing for a while attempted to work on me while intoxicated by cold medicine. The result created an energetic mess that left me in physical pain and required a visit to another practitioner to clean up the damage.
It’s important to remember that if a licensed practitioner hurts you, there is recourse for reporting them to state boards. Psychotherapists, dentists, doctors, medical assistants, and acupuncturists, massage therapists, licensed midwives, nurses, chiropractors, and other practitioners all can be investigated for malpractice. Please remember that filing a complaint will have serious personal and professional impacts on the person whom you are reporting. While you should never hesitate to report an unethical or dangerous practitioner, the complaint process is not a way to air vendettas or deal with personality differences. I have never filed a complaint against a practitioner, though I regret not filing one against the dentist who harmed me four years ago. I also would have filed a complaint against the doctor who sexually harassed me when I was in college if I’d known that I could. However, at that time I was uneducated about such things, and those were the days before the internet was what it is today.
When I have left one practitioner, the new one whom I switch to usually ends up being far more talented than the previous one. The transition to a new practitioner can be stressful, yet I have always ended up in very productive and beneficial healing relationships when I follow my gut about moving on.
© 2015 Green Heart Guidance