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AIBU about people who offer alternative health therapies?

(41 Posts)
itcontinues Fri 02-Sep-16 00:28:08

I like alternative health stuff: acupuncture, osteopathy, herbalism, naturopathy, deep tissue massage. I believe they have their place in a healthy lifestyle and they work for me, so making time for myself via these things is good and they make me feel good too.

I am not rolling in cash so see these therapists ad hoc. I tell them upfront that I can't afford to see them every week but I am happy to take what I can from ad hoc sessions. If I ever miss a booked session for whatever reason I always pay the cancellation fee because I respect other people's time. And on my birthday, people know to contribute to and/or buy me a session with one of them.

But I am continually blown away by the outrage I receive from them for not seeing them more frequently. And the barely concealed tactic of telling me that I shouldn't leave it long before I come back because of (something to do with ) my health.

An example is a woman I see for acupuncture. She is very well respected in her field and she is good at it. What she does really works for me. I saw her three weeks ago before the birth of my baby and she helped with some SPD pain i had. At the end of the session she insisted that I Skype her from the hospital the day after the birth and tell her how I was feeling and get her to come in and give me a few needles.

I said no. And that I would be in touch when i next wanted acupuncture. I am three weeks post partum and I have so far received 12 emails from her asking how I am and if I need anything. I have replied to 3 of them, saying I'm fine, baby is fine, thank you for her concern and I will be in touch when I need something. But still the emails are coming thick and fast reminding me that I need to come and see her to give my post birth healing the best chance, and the implication is if I don't I am causing myself a problem of some kind.

Here's what I don't get - She is good at what she does. It works. She is not a con artist. She has no need to force herself on people. But for some reason this money-grabbing masquerading as "concern" and this apparently "relaxed hippy attitude" barely concealing quite an aggressive pursuit of sales, is utterly off putting. Why can't she see that?

If this were just a one-off it would be an "AIBU about this acupuncturist?" But I have had it with many others too. I posted about an osteopath, a perfectly good osteopath who solved a lot of my back problems, who had no need to go begging for clients. a few years ago when I had my first DC. She used to send emails and make calls trying to guilt trip me into seeing her more frequently to help with my DC's "neck problems" (which she had diagnosed herself.) The implication was that if I didn't come once a week for the problem she had diagnosed and was trying to treat, then I was somehow not giving my baby the best start in life. When I reminded her that I could not afford it she said I should reorganise my priorities!

There have been others - not as persistent as these two, but people who have gone cold with me or annoyed if I see them for one session here and there and do not see them more regularly or follow their suggested "course of treatment," which usually involves extended sessions booked in advance and usually carrying cancellation fees if I cannot attend.

Can any alternative health people tell me why this is? Is it a lack of formal training which makes them not good at setting boundaries with clients? Or respecting boundaries when they are set by the client? I am fed up of having to stop seeing people who are really good at what they do because they overstep the mark, and then having to find someone else. Also I am fed up of not being able to use these therapies how I want to use them without having a whole lifestyle or regime forced on me whic orientates solely around that therapy.

RunningLulu Fri 02-Sep-16 01:53:01

In all fairness to them alternative therapies aren't as effective always as conventional medicine, so you need to have regular treatments over a longer period to have any kind of effect.

Ayurvedic medicine for example treats inflammation at it's core. So can sometimes help alleviate symptoms of illnesses caused by it ( Colitis, high bp etc). But you have to take the meds for a long time for them to have any effect (dad's bp medicine, to be taken alongside his actual medicine, was a 9 month thrice daily course).

sycamore54321 Fri 02-Sep-16 02:29:25

Alternative therapies targeted at nebulous 'health' issues are nothing but a scam. Remember that 100% of the therapist's income depends on customers buying more sessions and supplements etc. They are not bound by the codes of ethics that govern real healthcare. There is nothing to stop them from exaggerating and misleading you into believing you need their services and so they do it. For relaxation, etc, I'd say stick with the things that market themselves purely as such, like relaxation massage. For health concerns, see a real doctor who gets paid the same whether you come back for a course of dozens of treatments or not. There is no need for an army of chiropractors, acupuncturists, etc who try to convince you firstly that something is wrong and secondly that only they can put it right.

Oh and congratulations on the baby - I sincerely hope you let none of these unregulated people near him or her.

PitilessYank Fri 02-Sep-16 03:24:46

Playing Devil's Advocate here-is it possible that they are not motivated by money, but rather want to give you the sequence of care they feel works best, and that involves regular visits?

LeonardInTheArgosBag Fri 02-Sep-16 03:39:20

Bloody hell, block them! There is no way they are motivated by altruism. If they were, they'd leave a new mum and baby alone and trust that said mum was an adult who would seek acupuncture as and when she needed it!

Also agree with sycamore.

sycamore54321 Fri 02-Sep-16 03:59:58

Pityless Yank - which scenario offers an explanation for the unwanted behaviours the OP has described happening on multiple occasions by multiple alternate practitioners - your or mine? Harassing a parent of a newborn and guilt-tripping them by alleging their brand of woo is needed by a child to be healthy is in my opinion verging on criminal.

PitilessYank Fri 02-Sep-16 05:02:26

I was just presenting an alternate viewpoint, but I also think that many of these practitioners are charlatans so I cannot offer any further support of the practice.

ExAstris Fri 02-Sep-16 07:20:10

I'm not sure if I count as an "alternative health person" - I'm a hypnotherapist, but hypnotherapy has evidence of its efficacy, over and above conventional medicine for some conditions (I was reading a randomised controlled study the other day that showed that people who tried to quit smoking with hypnotherapy were 3 times as likely to not be smoking at 26 weeks post-treatment than those who used nicotine replacement therapy). I also have formal training, and am registered with a regulatory body that requires certain standards of training, ethics, supervision, and CPD, but the profession is unregulated at present so there are charlatans out there. I believe osteopaths also have a formal training structure.

My guesses would be:
Some people go into alternative medicine because they are committed to that sort of <ahem> woo lifestyle and some people committed to that sort of lifestyle can be a bit evangelical. An acquaintance is like this - raw vegan, into lots of woo stuff and speaks of little else. She has recently gone on a course to learn how to do some sort of spiritual massage thingie, and I imagine she'd be quite pushy because she genuinely thinks it'll change everyone's life same as she's pushy about raw veganism as it apparently fixed her son's asthma.

Being self-employed can be hard, and the hardest thing for me is being pushy enough to find clients. I can imagine some people go a little too far the other way.

When you say you tell these therapists up-front that you can only do ad-hoc sessions, how early is that? I know I do a lot of ground work for a new client, and would be slightly frustrated if after those hours of prep the client said they'd be mostly wasted, though I'm professional enough not to let it show and wouldn't ever pressure.

The last thing I can think of is reputation. Reputations are hard-won, and I can imagine it being worrying for the therapist if they think x course of treatment is necessary for success, and you're saying you'll come for less than that - you might still mention to people that you were treated by that therapist, but you wouldn't be having/showing the results the therapist normally gets so you'd be a bad 'advert', if you like.

That was long, sorry!

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Fri 02-Sep-16 07:31:39

Maybe they're worried that you have decided it doesn't really work so aren't coming back and even worse are telling other people that it doesn't work. Whereas you might be thinking that the reason you don't need to go back is that it has worked and you don't need any more treatment.

Also it's probably easier and cheaper to keep chasing existing clients than looking for new ones.

Guavaf1sh Fri 02-Sep-16 07:36:42

It's like a type of religion I guess. There has to be constant pressure to conform or believe because if you're allowed a few minutes to properly think there is a chance you see it for the hocum it really is. Anyone can invent an alternative therapy and I'm sure some of those would feel better for it. Resolution to the mean and all that

tinkywinkyshandbag Fri 02-Sep-16 07:52:52

Another hypnotherapist here! I also would never contact a client in this way, very unprofessional. I only contact clients who have signed up in advance for a series of sessions and even then only once. The ball is very much in their court. Having said that it can be frustrating when clients have complex issues but either want them fixed in one session or get half way through therapy and stop coming. Even then I recognise that sometimes life gets in the way or maybe there is a reason why they don't want to continue at the moment. There are also some people I call revolving door clients who have an issue and go to every single complementary therapist in town but only see each one for a session or two...generally speaking this is unlikely to be effective. I see an osteopath and she is lovely and would never dream of hassling me in this way. I think I would find it extremely annoying if she did and would make me less likely to go back for treatment!

IceRoadDucker Fri 02-Sep-16 07:57:35

You're surprised that charlatans aren't acting ethically?


user7755 Fri 02-Sep-16 07:57:43

I have never had any pressure to return to a complimentary health therapist. But to be fair I've only had reiki, massage, reflexology etc - stuff that you can just have as a one off.

Is it that the therapies you have are more effective as a course? Or do you honk it's just the personality of the therapist?

ArgyMargy Fri 02-Sep-16 08:01:15

I wouldn't attribute this to the fact that they're alternative practitioners. You don't have a proper comparison because conventional health services can't offer ongoing care to the levels they might want to, so don't nag in the same way. I would suggest honesty is the best policy "I'm sorry Ms Acupuncture, but I find being harassed to come for treatment is highly off-putting". These are business people and should be able to respond appropriately to a potential lost client when it's laid on the line.

elodie2000 Fri 02-Sep-16 09:49:03

They are motivated by money of course! They want you to go back more regularly because regular clients provide them with a regular income.
If they were doing it out of the goodness of their heart, they would be offering their services for free.
They run a business & naturally they want you there more. Their tactics are the same as any person whose income relies on 'selling' their services regularly!

user7755 Fri 02-Sep-16 09:55:42


There's an interesting school of thought that providing healing for people for free absolves them of the responsibility for their own health. That some people will go back repeatedly for healing (which requires the healer to give part of themselves), without changing anything in their life.

I'm not a complimentary health practitioner but have had some interesting conversations with people about this, for those people perhaps some food, flowers etc was perfectly acceptable - it doesn't have to be money. We did have some interesting conversations about how this thinking applies to the NHS.

elodie2000 Fri 02-Sep-16 10:33:35

User7755 'There's an interesting school of thought that providing healing for people for free absolves them of the responsibility for their own health. That some people will go back repeatedly for healing (which requires the healer to give part of themselves), without changing anything in their life.'

I'm not suggesting everyone should be entitled to free alternative therapy at all! I just think that those running a therapy business are motivated by money primarily.
Hence the constant badgering OP describes.

I do get what you're saying about self responsibility but Macmillan provide a whole range of alternative therapies for cancer patients for free (no charge to the patient).
Macmillan cover the therapist's costs. I think this is fantastic and of course the argument re. self responsibility/ free treatment is not really appropriate in that example.

purplefox Fri 02-Sep-16 10:37:07

This is the same with any sales person in any industry, its really not specific to alternative health therapies.

Velvetdarkness Fri 02-Sep-16 10:40:01

Yabu for calling osteopathy alternative but yanbu about aggressive marketing.

BertrandRussell Fri 02-Sep-16 10:49:20

Because they are all in the business of selling stuff that has been proven repeatedly not to work- why would you expect sensitivity or ethics from charlatans?

FinallyHere Fri 02-Sep-16 10:51:20

In any business transaction, pressure for repeat business would stop me from enjoying it and pretty much guarantee that I would never go back. Likewise, any indication that repeat sessions are necessary to 'gain the benefit'. I have been lucky enough to find some brilliant people, including a sports masseuse and yoga teacher, with whom I now have regular slots. They both emphasise what to do myself between sessions, to maintain the benefit.

To be fair, I have tried a fair few, and not gone back to loads.

JaceLancs Fri 02-Sep-16 10:51:47

I have had acupuncture both on nhs and private
Used 3 different hypnotherapists and have a close friend who is a trained masseuse
I have only once with one practitioner felt they were trying to encourage me to book sessions with them for their good rather than mine and never used them again
I agree it's totally off putting but in my experience not as common as OP has found it

ItGoesWithoutSaying Fri 02-Sep-16 10:55:39

Osteopathy (like Chiropractic) is an alternative medicine. It has basis in unscientific claims about how the bones affect your health.

I agree with sycamore and IceRoad. Remember the line: What do they call alternative medicine that has been shown to work? Answer: medicine.

DownWithThisSortaThing Fri 02-Sep-16 10:59:39

They just want your money OP.
And you sound sceptical about the neck problem with your DC as you keep pointing out the therapist had diagnosed it themselves - so do you trust their opinion and diagnosis? If you don't, why are you paying to see them? It reads like you think they're inventing health problems and trying to con you out of money.

IceRoadDucker Fri 02-Sep-16 12:14:07

Yabu for calling osteopathy alternative

No, she isn't.

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