Conventionally, we’re used to receiving support for our health individually. Conversations happen secretly behind closed doors. While privacy is of the utmost importance in the health field, treatment being fulfilled on an individual basis isn’t always the most effective way.
Receiving teaching and guidance in a group setting gives patients access to the benefits of community programmes. These benefits align perfectly with Functional Medicine, an approach that focuses on integration and moving forward holistically. Why should patients be separated from their peers? Positive change can be accelerated through community programmes.
How patients benefit from community programmes
Community fosters a lot of beneficial characteristics that support patients on their journey of healing and change. It gives them access to more than just the practitioner and the treatment plan. They have peer support as they adjust to their new way of life.
Often isolation coexists with health problems, particularly for those suffering from chronic illness and autoimmune disease, due to the lack of widespread understanding of the conditions. It can be challenging to find others who truly understand what they are going through and don’t make them feel like an outsider. A community programme surrounds each patient with people who are like-minded and have similar experiences, enabling a connection no one else can replicate.
With so many of those suffering from health issues experiencing dismissal from conventional practitioners, finding acceptance in their therapeutic journey cannot be overlooked. Chronic illness and autoimmune disease create an emotional burden as well as a physical one.
As Functional Medicine practitioners, we embrace the fact that everyone’s experience is unique. There are patterns between people with the same or similar conditions but they are never exactly the same. Giving patients the opportunity to interact with people who have similar or the same condition will widen their understanding of their own health and help them to identify differences to be aware of in their treatment.
This interaction gives them insights into new coping mechanisms, differing perspectives and ways their condition is experienced. It’s valuable information for their knowledge bank, empowering them in their own treatment.
Knowing what needs to be changed is the easy part. Enacting that change is where most people struggle. We get into stubborn habits that are hard to break especially around our diet and other health-associated habits. There will be days when patients struggle to motivate themselves. But knowing they’re not alone and have peers to report back to, fuels motivation.
Having people to relate to and keep them accountable brings a new dynamic to health programmes that isn’t possible with individual treatment.
In general, going through an experience with others creates a supportive environment. Discussion during sessions where knowledge is shared and tools are given, improves the understanding needed for implementation. We can all benefit from learning about varied experiences. It expands the mind as well as delivers comfort.
A sense of belonging and not being alone alongside the conversations sparked among the group provides additional support beyond the practitioner sharing expertise.
How will this improve your health?
For any health programme to be truly effective, it needs to get results. Patients should end the programme feeling better and making progress. Community has a direct impact on health programme results in three main ways.
The knowledge patients need to truly understand their condition and how to improve it from the root cause, can be delivered in an interactive way during a group programme. Learning can be discussion and activity-based which is a much more effective form of delivery for many people.
Tools and techniques
Practical steps are suggested and participants can share notes about experiences applying them in their day-to-day life. Instead of struggling to figure out the best way forward alone, they have a group to share experiences and advice with.
Support in application
As taking action is the hardest part, having peers to trial new techniques with, brings relief. They can relate to struggles, keep each other accountable and encourage each other as they make real changes in their lives.
In summary, community programmes have a powerful impact on patients who are ready to commit to progress. It benefits the practical elements of change as well as the emotional ones. It also takes the weight off practitioners because they can help more people at one time and foster a culture of support in each group.
We have created The Functional Foundation Programme to deliver all the benefits of community programmes to our patients. It’s a safe space for those looking to learn about how functional medicine and the autoimmune protocol diet can improve their health. Check out The Functional Foundation Programme page to find out more.