Funding Holistic Care

by Mary Lewis

According to a national survey, as early as 1997, Americans spent at least 12.2 billion dollars out of pocket for some form of “alternative” care in the previous year. Clearly, people believe that natural and holistic therapies are useful and many are willing to pay for them. Many more, however, probably would choose more holistic approaches if they believed they could find a way to do so.

If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, this article may be of assistance:

  • Are you spending a lot of money for OTC vitamins, supplements, herbs, etc. with little noticeable results?
  • Do you wish you could see a holistic therapist but don’t know how you can possibly afford it?
  • Are you limited by an insurance plan that covers some complementary modalities but not your therapy or therapist of choice?
  • Do you feel drawn to a particular type of therapy but restricted because your insurance requires hard to obtain pre-authorized referral from your primary care physician?

There was a time in my life when I could have answered yes to all of these questions.

My life was stable and I was making a modest but livable middle class income with good job security. At the same time, like many of us, I was extremely stressed, unhappy, anxious and depressed. I knew I could use some help but I couldn’t see how I could possibly afford what my insurance wouldn’t cover. Then my life hit a major crisis and I found that the answers were not as difficult as I had imagined.

I hope the following tips that I’ve found to be true and transforming in my life will be helpful in some way to others:

Make a choice and do it.

Even when I was forced by pain and crisis to deal with my stress, the limited perspective within my mind kept telling me I couldn’t afford it. All the while, my body, heart and soul were screaming for relief. In her great wisdom, my first Reiki/massage therapist told me at my initial visit to simply do whatever I felt I could do.

I decided to give it a fair shot and committed myself to weekly sessions for a month. A month passed and I was so pleased with the cumulative results that I found myself committing to the work a bit longer.

It wasn’t long before I suddenly became aware one day that I was able to afford this work. Once I had chosen to take care of myself, my life gently and naturally shifted to accommodate this choice. I never felt deprived, never forced a budget on myself and didn’t noticeably change my standard of living. I realized that it wasn’t a matter of money, as I had thought, but a matter of reordering my priorities to take care of myself in the most beneficial way.

I also discovered that, with each therapy I chose, the frequency of need decreased as the beneficial effects accumulated. With time and experimentation, I came to learn that if I didn’t see at least some results fairly quickly, the particular therapy was not the most effective choice for that particular time.

Choose your care wisely.

I used to spend a fortune, with little results, on vitamins, supplements, and products for “miracle cures” chosen from ads and articles I had read. Today I wouldn’t dream of addressing my concerns holistically without competent professional advice. I now know this is in my best interest, and inevitably, it saves me money in the long term.

Minimum daily requirements and recommended dosages do not account for individual differences and what may be going on within your body and being at any given time. If you are taking products by a label you could easily see little or no results because you are taking the wrong thing—or the wrong proportions of the right thing. Worse yet, in some cases, you could do yourself harm with too much for too long a period of time.

The wisest words for all who would use holistic products is to know that “natural” does not necessarily mean safe for indiscriminate use—and more is not necessarily better. A trained expert in Oriental Medicine, naturopathy, herbs or nutrition can save you both money and your health by assuring that you receive what is most appropriate for you at the appropriate time. The money you save may contribute to your ability to choose other supplemental modalities for stress relief or creating life balance.

Be patient and go with the flow.

The advice I received from my first holistic practitioner has stuck with me for many years and serves as a guide to my work now with clients. “Do whatever you can do.” I have come to know from deep in my inner being that there is no right or wrong way for us to follow our life path. Once we have chosen, a way will be provided and things will appropriately resolve in the time frame most appropriate for our soul’s path.

If you don’t see how you can afford a therapy you would like on a frequent basis, then simply choose what you think you can do for the moment. Give it a fair try on a regular basis at whatever pace is comfortable for you.

In summary, take an honest look at your life, make informed choices, and know that there is always a way. Don’t wait for a major life crisis, as I did, to force you into putting yourself first.