How To Find High-Quality Holistic Pediatric Care For Your Child Or Teen
Sitting down to write this I recall the many parent stories of being dismissed (or even ignored!) by their pediatrician or the after-hours line when they needed them most. Being made to feel hypervigilant or “crazy” for asking for help when your kid’s behavior is unmanageable or when there’s something wrong that your doctor can't diagnose is a scary place to be. It makes parents feel helpless and alone when what they really need is someone to listen deeply, give them more than 15 minutes, and really dig into why their child is struggling.
Then there’s a second group of parents who seek holistic pediatric care because they are not aligned with their pediatrician’s medication-first approach. They know there’s got to be another way to handle mild illness or even challenging mental or behavioral issues like anxiety and ADHD. And then there’s a third group (even though, yes, you might be in all three of these groups!) who have tried the meds, the anti-depressants, the steroid creams, the inhalers, and it’s not working. For these parents, looking toward holistic pediatric care is about being desperate for a solution because western medicine is failing them. It’s stories like these, and so many others, that make parents turn to holistic pediatrics.
Are All Holistic Pediatricians Really Offering Holistic Pediatric Care?
The short answer is no. Unfortunately, there are pediatricians out there who have jumped on the “holistic” or “functional medicine” wagon with neither proper training nor in good faith. They tack “holistic” onto their practice to increase their patient numbers or to break into private pay. They may have taken a weekend course on herbs, acupuncture, or chiropractic manipulations and now advertise themselves as a “holistic pediatrician.”
Then, there are those who claim to be practicing “holistic pediatrics”, but lack training and expertise. How many holistic health coaches have you encountered in real life or online who claim to have “THE cure” for your child’s eczema, ADHD, or sleep problems, yet when you dig a little there’s no training to back it up? Or you find out they're in a money-grab situation touting a cure-all in the form of a juice cleanse, supplement, spray or other fix-it-all product?
Unfortunately, when it comes to your own care and care for your child or teen, you need to utilize your consumer brain and verify if what you need matches the expertise in the practitioner you’re seeking out.
How To Know If Your Child Is Actually Going To Get The Holistic Pediatric Care They Need
It can be intimidating as a parent to find a holistic pediatric practitioner. You have so many options to choose from. And many degrees and certifications that sound unfamiliar to sort through. So, I put together a list of tried-and-true steps to verify quality of care.
#1) Ask how long the intake and follow-up appointments are
Any truly holistic pediatric specialist needs time to get to know your child’s specific needs, challenges, and mental/emotional and physical histories. This is because a holistic approach to pediatric care requires:
- an understanding of past and present
- all your child's body systems,
- your child’s routines, family life, and environment,
- AND many of the questions commonly asked in a pediatrician’s office.
If the intake session, when your practitioner is getting to know you and you are getting to know the practitioner, is any less than 30 minutes, I would take pause. How can the practitioner get all the information they need about your child in less than the length of a 90s sitcom?
In addition, ask:
- How often you will be having face-to-face (virual or in-person) contact with the practitioner following the intake session?
- Do you have to wait weeks or months to have a follow-up?
- Is the tracking of your child’s progress close, tailored, and frequent enough?
What if something in the treatment plan isn’t working or there are side effects, will you be able to have a long-enough conversation with the practitioner to address the issue and move forward with an alternative plan?
#2) For Holistic Pediatricians: Ask What Modalities Are Utilized In The Practice And What Training They Have Undertaken
It is valid to ask about any practitioner’s approach and training. Many times you will see this on their practice website. If you’re looking for a holistic pediatrician, you might look at their website for evidence of trainings in the modalities they employ. If they utilize herbs, chiropractic techniques, flower essences, or aromatherapy, where did they learn these modalities? You cannot learn acupuncture or any of the aforementioned modalities, and know how to utilize them effectively and safely in a weekend course. There is a reason that acupuncturists and chiropractors earn master’s level training, because the modalities are that complex and need training to be used safely and effectively, especially with children. Being a western-trained pediatrician who has a “special interest” in a complementary modality does not make you a holistic pediatrician.
#3) For Holistic Pediatric Practitioners or Health Coaches
It can be hard to distinguish between the “real thing” and someone who is riding a trend or taking advantage of parents’ distress to sell a product. It is particularly discouraging to hear a parent say, “I’ve tried herbs, but they don’t work” or “I tried acupuncture, it hurt so much.” Digging deeper, the herbs came from an untrained practitioner or straight off the shelf with no consideration of a child’s constitution, history, or understanding of their needs. And the “acupuncture” the person received was from a physical therapist or M.D. who took a weekend course on “dry needling” which is not acupuncture. It not only gives herbalists and acupuncturists a bad name, but it also takes safe, effective, non-pharmaceutical options off the table for people who would otherwise need them.
Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing, talented and well-trained pediatric practitioners and health coaches out there. Verify their training, ask them about it, it’s OK to do your due diligence. In fact, I’d recommend it when it comes to your health and the health of your child.
If you are ready to invest in quality holistic pediatric care so your child can thrive, call (215) 402-7046 or explore our approach more.