How to Find a Holistic or Alternative Physician

NOTE: Most larger communities have a holistic/alternative publication of some kind, generally available at local health food stores, “new age” type stores or large holistic centers/clinics. Practitioners advertise and are listed or written about within these types of publications, so this is a good place to start your search for local options.  You can also consult the "Links" page on this website, or an online regional/local resource directory such as the Natural Lifestyle Network (

The American College for Advancement in Medicine 23121 Verdugo Drive, Suite 204 Laguna Hills, CA 92653 Fax: (949) 455-9679
American Academy for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM): A not-for-profit medical society dedicated to educating physicians and other health care professionals on the latest findings and emerging procedures in preventive/nutritional medicine. ACAM represents more than 1,000 physicians in 30 countries and there is a searchable database available on their website at

American Holistic Medical Association: They have a Directory of members throughout the country, but request a payment of $15 to obtain a copy. Website is Email: For an AHMA Referral Directory, send a check or money order for $15 to: 12101 Menaul Blvd., NE, Suite C, Albuquerque, NM 87112 State that you are requesting a copy of the AHMA Referral Directory and include clearly printed shipping information. Phone: (505) 292-7788 There is also an online searchable referral database.

American Academy of Environmental Medicine: 701 E Kellogg, Suite 625 Wichita, KS 67207 Phone: (316) 684-5500 Fax: (316) 684-5709 Email: [email protected] Website: A medical society that focuses on the prevention and treatment of disease and imbalances in the body resulting from environmental stressors and toxins. These can include both internal (psychological, genetic, malnutrition, biological mechanisms etc.) and external (organic inhalants such as dusts, molds, pollens; chemicals; infectious organisms; radiation; toxins and pesticides; electro-magnetic fields; etc.) components. There is an online database of Academy members who have successfully completed the Core Curriculum (consisting of four instructional courses) searchable by state or country. Referrals can also be requested by emailing

American Association of Naturopathic Physicians: Founded in 1985, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) is the national professional society representing naturopathic physicians who are licensed or eligible for licensing as primary care providers, following a four-year educational program, similar to a four-year medical degree. Naturopathic medicine blends centuries-old natural, non-toxic therapies with current advances in the study of health and human systems, covering all aspects of family health from prenatal to geriatric care. ND’s are the family practitioners of the alternative medicine field, studying herbology, homeopathy, nutrition, detoxification procedures, etc. Naturopathic medicine concentrates on whole-patient wellness-the medicine is tailored to the patient and emphasizes prevention and self-care. Naturopathic medicine attempts to find the underlying cause of the patient’s condition rather than focusing solely on symptomatic treatment. Naturopathic physicians cooperate with all other branches of medical science referring patients to other practitioners for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate. 8201 Greensboro Drive, Suite 300, McLean, VA 22102 Phone: (703) 610-9037 Fax: (703) 610-9005 Website: There is a searchable database located at NOTE: Not all practitioners who use the title of naturopath have attended a four-year degree program and some degrees in this field are available through distance learning certification programs. Be sure to ask what training your practitioner has obtained if this is important to you.


How to Choose a Holistic/CAM Practitioner

From the American Holistic Medical Association website:

Your first responsibility as a patient/client is to select a practitioner who will join your "team" to support you in obtaining and maintaining optimum health for your body, mind, emotions and spirit. While most holistic practitioners use modalities that are currently labeled "alternative medicine," the interests and practices of our members vary widely. Thus, one person might work primarily with nutrition and herbs, while another might look mainly at the spiritual aspects of health and disease. Other areas of interest include spinal manipulation and bodywork, "energy medicine," mind-body medicine, acupuncture and stress management. It is important to remember that there are many different definitions of holistic medicine. When choosing a practitioner, make sure that individual has the same type of philosophy and uses the treatment modalities you are seeking.

The following considerations are offered as a guide to help you find a practitioner with whom you are comfortable. Optimum health is more likely to be present when you work with someone who is supportive of your efforts to be in charge of your life. Some of the criteria may not apply to all situations.

  • Does this practitioner have health professional relationships with others? How did you hear about this practitioner? A personal referral is often more powerful than a professional referral. What do friends and other professionals say about this person? How does he/she feel about second opinions or your interest in alternative health care therapies/treatments? What technical certifications, professional organizations or hospital affiliations does this practitioner have?
  • How do YOU respond to this practitioner's office and staff? This environment reveals his/her attitudes and beliefs. Do you feel comfortable and cared for when you call or visit the office? Does the ambiance enhance that comfort? Does the staff further your sense of well being? Are educational handouts available in the office or waiting room? Is your appointment time honored or do you have to wait?
  • Do you feel like a valued person working as a partner with this practitioner? Healing is enhanced by a healthy relationship between patient/client and practitioner. Do you feel this practitioner is there for you? Do you feel trust and confidence? Does he/she seem to care about you, take your medical history personally and show an interest in your family, lifestyle and diet? Are you told about various treatment options? Do each of you recognize that you need the other? Is the practitioner accessible? Are you able to discuss the financial aspects of your care openly and comfortably? Positive answers to these questions are evidence of your rightful place as a co-creator of this healing partnership.
  • Is your personal dignity respected? Any examination or interaction should be respectful of your personal dignity.
  • Does this practitioner honor your anxieties and fears? Is this practitioner sensitive enough to place him/herself in your position regarding fears and anxieties about an illness or proposed treatment?
  • What is the state of this practitioner's health? Does he/she appear to have a healthy lifestyle? Signs of overweight, overwork, smoking or drinking may indicate that he/she does not take care of him/herself. You will probably do best with a team member who is just as committed to good health as you are. The Biblical statement, "Physician, heal thyself," is paramount in a health-filled relationship.
  • Are you allowed time between diagnosis and treatment? Does this practitioner allow you the time to collect the educational and personal resources that you need to make a well informed decision?
  • Are you treated as if this is an important, ongoing relationship? Are you notified of test results within a reasonable period of time? Are follow-up visits scheduled after treatment? Is there discussion of future health goals and not just the immediate matter at hand?
  • Do you feel unconditionally accepted by this practitioner? Unconditional acceptance allows you to get well in your unique way. Do you feel that you are accepted no matter what develops, no matter what decisions you make? Can the practitioner approach your care with an open mind, rather than with a predetermined treatment plan? Would the practitioner offer to a member of his/her own family the same carefully chosen advice that he/she has offered to you?
  • Would you send the person most dear to you to this practitioner? Do you have such a strong feeling of caring, confidence and trust in this practitioner that you would send to him/her, with no misgivings, the person who is dearest to you? If so, then you have found that special person to be on your health team.

Selecting a CAM Practitioner

See (from the National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine/NIH website)

Selecting a health care practitioner--of conventional or complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)--is an important decision and can be key to ensuring that you are receiving the best health care. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has developed this fact sheet to answer frequently asked questions about selecting a CAM practitioner, such as issues to consider when making your decision and important questions to ask the practitioner you select.