Assessment in natural therapies is a fairly complex process which can’t be fully explained in this brief space. This page is designed to give you an overview. Whilst naturopaths do treat serious pathologies, much of our work involves dealing with what the medical profession calls functional disorders. That means that the client knows they are unwell, but something isn’t working properly, because the client feels nauseas, or they are in constant pain, or suffering with frequent headaches, or their digestive system rumbles like a freight train much of the time, or bowel movements are too hard, or too soft, or swing between the two extremes, or menstrual periods are heavy and very painful, and the list goes on. But the doctor just cannot find anything wrong with them using the conventional medical approach, which is looking for pathologies, not functional disorders. Naturopathic diagnosis requires the gathering of many very small pieces of information, to build up a picture of the state of health & wellness of the client, rather than the state of disease. There is a wealth of assessment approaches used in alternative therapies. The key elements of assessment used at Davies Natural Therapies and proven in the crucible of clinical practice to be of greatest use are health history, nutritional status, iridology. and physical examination.
Whatever your health problem, an understanding of your health history may give clues as to the origin of your current complaint. Whilst the pathologies may not be directly or even distantly related from the medical perspective, naturopaths are more interested in promoting the health process than they are in fighting the disease process. So your health history will give information about the condition of your digestive processes, and how well your detoxification system is working. Both are essential to maintain all of your cells, organs and tissues in a clean, well nourished environment, which is a precondition for vibrant health & wellness.
If your case is difficult, we will ask you to fill in our comprehensive health analysis questionnaire, which will help us locate fairly accurately the origin of your problem.
Since we are vitally interested in the health process, it is essential to assess the foundational materials with which you are providing your body for it to build health & wellness, from individual cells, to tissue and organ systems, and then to the whole body.
If you have a serious health problem for which you need our assistance, at some point it is likely you will be asked to make a record of everything you eat and drink for three days.
One final aspect of the assessment of nutritional status needs to be discussed. It is important to consider not only the nutritional status of patients, but also their anti-nutritional status. What does that mean? The modern environment is full of many types of chemical pollutants which act as toxins in the human body. Aside from the symptom picture, it is often difficult to assess that. But one thing can be assessed fairly accurately. Quite rarely in fact, there will be a suspicion that heavy metal poisoning has something to do with the poor health in which a client currently finds themselves. In such cases a sample of the client’s hair is sent away for analysis, because the body does everything it can to shuffle such toxins to places where they do least harm. The hair is a prime target.
Iridology, or Iris Diagnosis, the name by which it is sometimes referred, is the art of understanding and diagnosing tissue states by examining the iris, pupil and sclera of the eye. Please note well. Iridology cannot be used to diagnose pathologies. What it does is to give clues as to the general toxicity of the body and its tissues, including the state of specific organs, their state of tension, and their general level of activity; normal, underactive, or overactive.
The earliest recorded writing about the phenomenon of Iridology is found in the book Chiromatica medica by Philippus Meyens, published in 1670, in which Meyens attributes specific locations in the eye as relating to specific bodily organs.
But the father of modern iridology is Hungarian physician Dr Ignatz von Peezely, who began studying the eyes of his patients after remembering an incident from his boyhood involving an owl in his garden. In an attempt to free the trapped owl, he accidentally broke one of its legs. He strapped it, and noticed a black line through the iris on the same side as the broken leg. He nursed the bird until it recovered, noticing that as it did so, the black line healed over. Paul says of iridology:
“When I first began studying iridology, I was very sceptical as to its accuracy and therefore usefulness, until I heard that story. And I still would have disbelieved it, because the story sounds quite mythological to someone with a background in science such as myself. But I then remembered my own boyhood experience, when as a teenager of about 15 years, my father had kidney stone surgery, and the surgeon botched the job. When dad came home from hospital, he had a very clear and distinct black line through a point in the lower part of his iris. So clear was it that I could see it from a metre away. I asked him what it was, to which he replied, ‘How would I know?’ But the line gradually disappeared as he recovered from the surgery.
“And it was a combination of hearing the story about Peezely, remembering my own father, and recognising that the line in his eye had been located precisely where the lecturer was insisting the kidney area of the iris was, that convinced me that in spite of the fact that there is little scientific evidence to back it up, iridology has value as a diagnostic tool.
“One further incident cemented my acceptance of the value of iridology. Whilst still at college, an acquaintance of mine brought her friend to me, asking me to have a look at her friend’s eyes to see if I could see anything wrong. My acquaintance was trying to test both the veracity of iridology and my skill in it! She gave me no clues whatsoever about the problem that her friend had experienced.
“I had a look, and still being very inexperienced tentatively offered the information that there may be something seriously wrong with her friend’s lungs, because there were very large ‘lesions’ as iridologists describe them, in both the lady’s irises. It was only then that I was informed that she had just been discharged from hospital, having been in there with a severe bout of double pneumonia!”
At Davies Natural Therapies, naturopath Paul Davies regards Iris Diagnosis as a very useful part of his diagnostic toolkit in the assessment of the health of his patients.
Firstly it needs to be made clear that invasive physical examination procedures are not practised at Davies Natural Therapies. We do not for example undertake vaginal or proctological (anal) examinations.
But naturopath Paul Davies will undertake a degree of physical examination, with client permission, and this occurs at two levels.
Firstly, we all know the hallmarks of healthy animals when we see them. Shiny coat & clear eyes make it clear a particular animal is in sparkling health. Whilst it is not common to look at human beings that way, the gloss of the hair, the condition of fingernails & skin, and the presence or absence of a coating on the tongue and its colour, all give clues as to the general state of health, and some specific clues as to nutritional status and general health of the organs of detoxification.
Secondly, Paul may ask permission to palpate (apply a small amount of pressure) to specific parts of the abdominal cavity. Clues as to the health of a number of internal organs can be gleaned from this procedure.
At Davies Natural Therapies, our remedial massage therapist Paul Davies approaches remedial therapies diagnosis from two distinct yet complementary perspectives. This is part and parcel of Goltech® therapy, the remedial therapy system used by him.
Firstly, the general approach taken by doctors, physiotherapists and chiropractors is relevant. It is important to know if there is an actual pathology, and if so, what it is. Little need be said about this.
Secondly, problems are analysed from a functional perspective. That is, Paul considers the overall structure and function of the body to determine the best course of action for correction of the problem. Paul’s approach takes into account but is not limited to the following factors:
- Postural alignment.
- Muscle balance, from front to back, side to side, above and below joints, and from the functional perspective of how they act and interact in natural movements of the body.
- Muscle length (too short or too long?), strength, flexibility and tension, especially core strength.
- The tension, and either flexibility or hardening, of the skin (called the myofascia) that directly sheaths muscles.
If you read the “Therapies” page you will learn that psychology attempts to understand the interaction between the internal person and the external environment, and the impact each of those has upon the mental and emotional health and wellbeing of the individual.
The process of diagnosis in psychology is the process of working out where a client is situated within the above understanding of the interaction between the internal and the external. And there are a couple of different approaches. Our psychologist Helen Davies uses a functional or process approach to assessment of clients rather than a clinical approach. So what is the difference between the two?
The Clinical Approach
If you are being assessed for a workcover claim or are fighting some other legal battle for which you need an assessment, then you need to be assessed by a clinical psychologist, who among other things will generally apply the criteria as outlined in what is called the DSM-IV. That represents the standard used by clinical psychologists, and recognised by the courts, for putting a “name” or “label” to whatever problem it is that you have. It may be depression, or schizophrenia or any of the many other terms used by the DSM-IV to classify psychological illness.
The Functional or Process Approach
Helen is more concerned with the level of wellness of clients than with whether or not there is a degree of mental illness. This needs further explanation. Her interests lie in Educational & Developmental Psychology, an area in which she is undertaking further study. This perspective views life as a series of stages, requiring the development of certain skills, with times of transition recognised as sometimes being difficult to navigate. To that end, Helen is interested in how you are functioning or coping, and the processes of everyday life that got you where you are, and the skills you have to manage life events generally and more particularly the situation in which you currently find yourself. In other words, what’s bugging you and how can she help you learn to either fix it or move on? In this approach naming a disorder or labelling a client is largely irrelevant.
So Helen will work with you, helping you to explore your issues and develop skills which will enhance your life experience in your particular situation. In doing so Helen will help you understand the interaction between your thinking, emotions and behaviours, and draw out and enhance your coping skills in the way you interact with other people. For more information about this, click here to read Helen’s entry on the page devoted to services.
Davies Natural Therapies provides the services of skilled professionals: Paul Davies who practises as a naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist, homoeopath, and remedial massage therapist and Helen Davies who practises as a psychologist & counsellor. We service Greater Brisbane – especially the northern side of Brisbane, firstly starting at Petrie (where we are located), but also including but not limited to other northern suburbs listed alphabetically for your convenience:
Albany Creek, Albany Hills, Bray Park, Bridgeman Downs, Brisbane, Bunya, Burpengary, Caboolture, Chermside, Dakabin, Eatons Hill, Everton Hills, Everton Park, Ferny Grove, Ferny Hills, Fortitude Valley, Kallangur, Lawnton, Mango Hill, Morayfield, Murrumba Downs, Narangba, North Lakes, Petrie, Samford, Samsonvale, Spring Hill, Stafford, Strathpine, Warner, and north up to and including the Sunshine Coast. Sorry if we haven’t listed you and you’re on the north side of Brisbane! Give us a call!