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Fourth principle: support of friends and family

‘How hard is it to get well on your own with zero emotional input and support from others? I would have to say it is very difficult, and our stories confirm to us that it is needed. Even if family or friends do not understand why you are doing what you are doing their endorsement of your choice is invaluable. Victoria made great progress at times when emotional support was available. Anne would only surround herself with positive people. John found some friends questioned what he was doing so tended more to others who understood. Violet received her support from her fellow naturopathic students and other friends.

Effectively, support lifts the emotional levels to a point where the mind is more positive, and again we have psychoneuroimmunology playing its part. Anyone who has come through a health disorder will confirm the importance of support and how without it they would be still sick (or worse). Imagine for a minute that you have a serious disorder. Now imagine living on your own, with no family in the world and friends who do not understand you or your health problem. You want to improve your health, but you require motivation from somewhere. You have read a health book and feel inspired to get on with it. You take the steps suggested and happily launch into your wellness program. Then a week or two later you have an upset and the new diet seems unappealing and not worth the effort. You give in to your old ways and the pattern is broken. Regrettably this does happen to people, and many times it is the lack of support that is the decisive factor.

The interesting fact on support is that it can come in many ways. Also, whatever the support you choose it has to be unjudging, and there for your needs. But most important it has to be there!’

This extract from ‘Journeys Back to Health’ was written in 2006. My view today is much the same, but I should add that the ‘therapeutic relationship’ should be added to the above support systems. This is the combination of the invaluable support and advice received from the therapist and the response to that support by the client. Integrative medicine recognizes the contribution in this relationship and you can see more on this from practitioners in the States who understand its value to healing: . A good summary of the benefits comes from Denis Novack MD who states: “In order to heal patients we have to know who the patient is, what their worries are, and what is troubling them the most. We have to be able to connect with them on a personal emotional level before we can begin the process of healing.” This I believe fundamentally today to be absolutely true!

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