Appreciative Medicine: Creating Unique Wellness in Your Life
by Tel Franklin, M.D.

Millions of Americans have been turning to alternative medicine to solve their healthcare problems. There needs to be a bridge between traditional and alternative healthcare providers, a dialogue must be built based on each patient's own vision of total wellness along with their unique individual traits. It's critical for patients to participate in managing their own healing and wellness, and to shift from the old disease/diagnosis model to one of optimal health. It's our choice to either be focused on solving health problems or on the larger reality of achieving optimal well-being. Optimal health becomes a quest in which treatment is obtained within a new infrastructure: where patients experience both the ultimate in communication and empowerment.

How can this new infrastructure be built and how does it work? The new infrastructure is the Appreciative Dialogue approach, which is based on these three premises: 1) There are three important relationships involved in your health process: you and your primary care physician; your primary care physician and your other healthcare providers; and you with yourself 2) You want to take advantage of the best treatments available in both conventional and alternative medicine, the entire structure and health care. 3) Doctors and patients must shift focus from the old problem-oriented disease/diagnosis model to the new solutions-oriented optimal health journey.

The Appreciative Medicine approach is for motivated individuals. It's for patients who are on a quest to take control of their health, who want to make a conscious choice. And it's for physicians and other healthcare providers who are willing to communicate with each other and join with other practitioners to cooperate in a larger plan for patient wellness.

Patients today want simpler, more therapeutic solutions that work with the body, enhancing the body's immune system rather than over whelming it. As a result, medicine of the future will likely be less invasive, less toxic, and more human and nurturing than what our current system of healthcare offers. To create a healthcare system that's driven by people instead of technology, patients and healthcare providers must take steps to make it happen.

When faced with an acute episode of back pain, where do I turn for help? An osteopath, chiropractor, or do I get a massage? Should I insist on x-rays or an MRI scan? Appreciative Dialogue is your ultimate map in finding the right combination of treatments options and help to put you on the right path.

At the core of Appreciative Medicine, is the focus on creating wellness not by dwelling on healing, but to activate innate healing systems. Used synergistically with various healing options, wellness is created from within. Our human physiology is based upon biological and chemical reactions that occur to regulate and maintain life. There are a number of systems that are responsible for healing and optimizing our health. Our immune responses can be enhanced and our hormones optimized by activating that innate healing. These systems can be optimized by proper nutrition, exercise, meditation, improved sleeping patterns, healthy relationships, managing stress, and probably further enhanced by massage, acupuncture, and proper spinal alignments. To achieve wellness is like any journey. You take it one step at a time. The following steps, which can be experienced in part through journaling your inner dialogue, will set you on the path to manifesting wellness in your life:

Step 1: Change your mindset. Immerse yourself with goodness, love, and joy. Dwell on the creative, positive instinct in your life. Step 2: Develop a vision of optimal well-being. Focus on the positive realm of goodness and health within you. Step 3: Discover the tools for harnessing the vital energetic force that creates healing. This includes the entire spectrum for healing, from conventional approaches to alternative treatment modalities. Step 4: Reflect on your accomplishments. Note the benchmarks along the way. When you see where you've been, you become clearer on where you're going. Step 5: Obtain true insight into who you are and where you want to go. The road to self-actualization will take you to the state of wellness where all our dreams and hopes for the future will be realized.

Appreciative Dialogue is about communication between you and your doctor and within yourself. It is about restructuring a relationship in health care so that your agenda and your needs are met. It is about building bridges between the entire continuum of health care where everyone's focus is on you. And beyond that, Appreciative Dialogue is about empowering you with the tools and the direction to become the ultimate person can be physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

Tel Franklin, M.D. is author of the new book, "Expect a Miracle: You Won't be Disappointed: The Four Step Process for Managing Your Health" (www.AppreciativeDialogue.com; 2003; $24.00). He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians and educator in the field of integrative medicine.