Suzan Walter, M.B.A. is co-founder and current president of the American Holistic Health Association, and served as president of the American Holistic Medical Foundation from 1988 - 1990. Her private consulting practice specializes in health and wellness-related projects on the Internet. Suzan can be contacted through AHHA at (714) 779-6152 or mail@ahha.org.

The American Holistic Health Association has compiled a collection of self-help articles to support your efforts to enhance your own health and well-being.

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Have you considered gathering a personal healthcare team? This is the perfect way to integrate the best of all that health care has to offer today. You probably already have the start of your team with your family doctor and your dentist. Your next step is to look at the current status of your health and others in your family. Consider if you need support to diagnose and treat health problems OR if everyone is fairly healthy, but you are ready to make changes toward achieving a higher level of wellness and prevent future illnesses from getting started. With this awareness in mind, review the following list showing you the general categories of healthcare professionals to research, then add to your healthcare team.

Only a physician-level trained and licensed healthcare professional can DIAGNOSE AND TREAT. It is recommended to have at least one from this category on your healthcare team.

Diagnose and treat patients with serious diseases and conditions

    Medical Doctor
    Doctor of Osteopathy
    Doctor of Chiropractic
    Naturopathic Physician
    Doctor of Oriental Medicine

Specialty physician groups, such as holistic, integrative, complementary and alternative medicine, pain management, etc.

Treat patients under direction or prescription of others

    Colon Hydrotherapist
    Physical Therapist
    Physician Assistant

There are healthcare professionals who are NOT authorized to diagnose and treat their diseases, but CAN assess your current status through the lens of their scope of practice, then offer you therapies to enhance your level of wellness and improve prevention options. Some educate their clients how to enhance their body’s natural healing capabilities.

Bodywork/ touch therapies that include physical movement and manipulation

    Alexander Technique Practitioner
    Aston-Patterning Practitioner
    Feldenkrais Practitioner
    Fitness Trainer
    Massage Therapist
    Myofascial Trigger Point Practitioner
    Polarity Practitioner
    Structural Integration Practitioner
    Trager Practitioner
    Yoga Instructor

Energy therapies that involve working with subtle energies of the client

    Acupressure Practitioner
    Applied Kinesiology Practitioner
    Aromatherapy Practitioner
    Auyrvedic Medicine Practitioner
    Biofeedback Practitioner
    Bio-Magnetics Practitioner
    Flower Essences Practitioner
    Healing Touch Practitioner
    Homeopathy Practitioner
    Oriental Medicine Practitioner
    Qigong Practitioner
    Reflexology Practitioner
    Reiki Practitioner
    Therapeutic Touch Practitioner

Diet/ nutrition/ supplementation therapies that involve changing what the client consumes via food and supplementation

    Certified Nutrition Specialist

Mental/ emotional therapies that work with the mental and emotional aspects of the client

    Guided Imagery Practitioner

Educational/ coaching-type support (without any specific therapies involved) that guide clients to look at lifestyle choices impacting the quality of their health and well-being. May also educate about wellness-enhancing therapies to consider.

    Health Consultant
    Holistic Health Practitioner
    Lifestyle Coach

The categories above are general groupings to give you a broad overview of the types of care available. It is important to be aware that there can be multiple levels of training and licensing or certification within an individual modality type mentioned in a category. Some may be at a very elementary level, while others have graduate degrees and have met the stringent requirements for a specific professional certification.

Many healthcare professionals become trained in multiple modalities and qualify to be included in more then one category above. An in-depth conversation with a physician or practitioner you are seeing (or considering adding to your healthcare team) will uncover what trainings, authorizations for including in a private practice, and the extent of experience that individual has for each modality.

Always keep in mind that it is your responsibility to verify that a physician's or practitioner's training, licensing/certification, experience and level of expertise are appropriate for your specific needs.

This is an evolving “article” to assist people in understanding the vast array of healing options open to them. If you have feedback for how to make this presentation more effective or accurate, please email your comments to mail@ahha.org. Thank you.