(AANMC, 2023 (adapted from Zeff et al., 2013)
This hierarchy demonstrates our focus as naturopaths, which is on disease prevention and health promotion. Reducing the cost of health care and increasing the individuals agency over personal health promotion is paramount.
In my practice, a significant area of focus is coaching clients to develop strong conditions for health with lifestyle and nutrition medicine. This involves identifying and removing barriers as well as education and collaboration on small achievable goals to build back a foundation of health.
There are some misconceptions about what we do as naturopaths and it is understandable because, unfortunately in New Zealand, it remains an unregulated profession. Until we are recognised, it is important that the public knows how to find a qualified and credible practitioner.
Try and look for a degree-qualified or a diploma-certified practitioner who is registered with a reputable professional association such as NMHNZ. NOTE: NMHNZ is now only allowing degree-qualified practitioners to be registered. This ensures that they are held to professional standards (which are aligned with international standards set out by the world naturopathic foundation), maintain continued professional education, and are aware of their clear scope of practice.
In my practice, to further uphold the safety and health of a client, a client can consent to a shared-care approach where I work collaboratively with their primary health practitioners and/or other practitioners such as psychologists. I believe that a shared care approach is the best way we can support a person's health and wellbeing.
Based on the Naturopathic Therapeutic Order (Zeff et al., 2013), the foundation to health is establishing the conditions required to maintain health. This involves assessing and establishing foundational and social determinants of health as well as removing factors that disturb them.
The determinants that we look at include:
6. lifestyle factors
7. Psycho-emotional factors
8. Socioeconomic factors
9. Environmental factors
This is the most important aspect of my clinical practice as it is the foundation to whole-person preventative medicine. It is also the most challenging. It requires systems thinking, that recognises the interconnections between the different aspects and how these connections can be supported. It also involves working with the Transtheoretical Behavioural Change Model, which appreciates the stages of behavioural change and how an individual can be supported through these changes.
In addition to my Naturopathic qualifications, I am currently completing a certificate in health coaching with Prekure, which is increasing my understanding and practice of behavioural medicine and coaching with regard to the above determinants.
I am on a mission to promote preventative medicine and health. I am on a mission to do this collaboratively, in a person-centred way and with an integrated, shared-care approach. I believe our health care system can be better and I want to be part of the solution.
Ngā mihi nui,