Once you've talked with your health care provider and decided a complementary therapy may be right for you, the next step is finding a practitioner who specializes in the therapy.
Referrals from your health care provider
The best place to start a search is with your health care provider. He/she may be able to refer you to a complementary therapy practitioner in your area.
Physicians and other providers (such as nurses, physical therapists and psychologists) can offer many complementary therapies. For example, physical therapists may offer massage therapy and nurses may use reiki and therapeutic touch.
Checking licensing status
Finding a licensed complementary therapy practitioner is also a good step. While a license doesn't guarantee good, safe care, it does mean a practitioner has passed licensing requirements in his/her field. The websites below can be used to check the licensing status of many complementary therapy practitioners:
Interview your potential practitioner
Before getting any treatments, it's a good idea to have a brief meeting with a complementary therapy practitioner, whether licensed or not. At this meeting, you should discuss:
- The practitioner's experience treating people with cancer, qualifications, views on integrating complementary therapies with standard medical treatments and general approach to treatment
- Your medical history, current medicines and breast cancer treatments
- Your health care provider's recommendations and contact information
- The potential benefits and risks from the therapy
- How much the therapy will cost (only a few complementary therapies are covered by health insurance plans)
If you are not impressed by what you hear, or feel things just didn't seem quite right, do what you'd do in a similar situation in life—go somewhere else. Don't settle for a practitioner just because you've taken the time and effort to find and meet with her/him. Keep looking until you find one that is right for you.