You can listen to the article here.


Doctor with PatientHave you sought help from one professional after another for a persistent health issue only to end up with……the same persistent and unresolved health issue? If this is a yes for you, you are not alone. So many people have gone from one health care practitioner to another hoping to finally find a solution to their problem but only end up feeling frustrated, confused, hopeless and feeling that they’ve not been understood.

As a health care practitioner who has experienced my own hard to explain let alone hard to solve health issues, I have come to learn that having a full understanding of how you arrived at your current health complaints is fundamental to a successful treatment plan and that begins by listening to you and your health story. This, of course takes time, an ingredient of our medical model that seems to be running out as evidenced by this recent article on the economic UNfeasibility of your doctor spending more than 2 minutes with you.

I would encourage you to get an understanding from your prospective practitioner what their evaluation of you entails. Can you tell if enough time has been allotted to not only hear about your current symptoms but also to listen to your entire health history? Your health today is influenced by all that you have inherited and encountered since the time of your conception. I am interested to know if you are an only child or are you #7 of 7 children in your family? If you are the latter, that tells me that the potential for adrenal dysfunction at a very young age exists for you since your Mother’s adrenal reserves were probably low by her 7th pregnancy and it has been shown that pregnant women can infringe upon the adrenal energy from their growing fetus. I am interested to know if you were born via C-section or a vaginal delivery and whether you were breast fed. This lends information about the earliest establishment of your microbiome, the dynamic balance of all of your microorganisms that plays a critical role in your immune system’s perception and response today. I am interested to know whether you had ear infections when you were 2 or got your tonsils out when you were 6 or had allergies that "you grew out of." It’s not about a check mark in a box of your health history’s laundry list, it’s about piecing together the answers to the very rich question of……..Why?

I hope that you could notice that your practitioner is interested in not only WHAT you are saying with regard to your health history but also HOW you are saying it. How my patients say what they do about their health reveals so much to me about their connection and knowledge of their symptoms. Someone might tell me that they eat a small breakfast, often skip lunch not eating til 3 or 4pm and in a cavalier fashion, remark that it doesn’t bother them, they’ve done it for years. This tells me that they aren’t very aware of, after 7 hours without food, their low blood sugar symptoms. Another dismissive phrase I hear is "…….oh that’s my usual pain, I’m used to that, what I’m really here for is……..". This tells me that the information behind a recurrent pain issue has not been not fully understood or perhaps even attended to.

There should be 2 parts to being heard by your health professional. The part where you are allowed time to explain your situation, symptoms and give information you feel is important and the second part where you are being asked carefully crafted questions. I find that this part of a skillful inquiry is not only informative to me as a practitioner but can also be the seed that sprouts your first awareness about solving your long standing complaints.

For me, listening to you and encouraging you to answer questions and tell your story is fundamental to finding a solution to your situation. I have come to realize that your symptoms today are a result of an underlying ongoing previous story. It may be a short story or a long story but the clues and even answers to solving your issues are within your story and hearing your story is the first part to finally fixing your health!

About Sheila Wagner PT, CN, BCHN

Sheila’s cutting edge ability to uncover hidden source(s) of health issues when no one else has is the first piece to her step wise approach in solving your persistent health complaints.

+Sheila Wagner is the ultimate expert assisting people nationwide to finally fix their health through 1:1 consults, group programs, lectures and classes.

Opinions & Feedback:

  1. Sheila,

    It is so important to be heard by the people we entrust our health to. Thanks for another wonderful article and a reminder that we must choose our health care professionals wisely.

    Write on!~


  2. Sheila,

    I’m one of those who tend to get intimidated by doctors since I feel I don’t know enough to even ask questions, but your article reminded me how important it is to be heard. And also to choose a professional who knows what kind of questions to ask his/her patients!

  3. What a breath of fresh air your article is Sheila. Indeed even my health practitioner recently complained to me that since their practice went high tech she feels as though her time with a patient is spent typing up details on the computer and taking her away from face to face discussion with the patient. In today’s world it is even more important to have our medical specialists even more personal and tuned in.
    Heidi Alexandra Pollard

  4. Wow! Great article. I plan to pass it on!

  5. Sheila, thank you for bringing up such an important topic. I commend you on your listening skills. I’ve seen you in action and I know that anyone working with you is in good hands or should I say good ears? I worked with a medical professional before who didn’t really hear anything I was saying and presumed he understood. It was painfully difficult. What I’ve learned from my friend, Mark Nagy, is that it is almost just as important to hear what isn’t being said. I choose wisely now when picking a physician and look for great listening skills.

  6. Sheila,

    Such great points…..when people tell me they’re fine but the essence of their words is incongruant, I know it’s time to dig deeper…:) I wish all practitioners took the diligence that you did in caring for their peeps…;)

    Much love,

  7. listening to ourselves, our bodies, our thoughts all create such a powerful foundation for health because it gives us the opening to hear what is really going on.

  8. Great POV… It’s important to be your own advocate that’s for sure!

    Sarah B.

  9. Good points, Sheila.

    I coach empowered patients to ask for the amount of consultation time they want by saying, “I would like a half hour appointment.” If the scheduler replies that the insurance will only cover a ten or fifteen minute appointment, paying out-of-pocket is an option. Patients can start the appointment with, “I have symptoms that have puzzled many doctors. I scheduled a half hour with you so you have time to gather the information you need to offer a considered opinion. Is that what you understand?”

  10. Sheila, this was so timely. I was talking with a friend today as we walked our dogs and she is so confused and fed up with traditional medicine and trying to find solutions to her health problem. She is open to alternative methods but complained she doesn’t know how to find someone. I have sent her the link to your podcast and recommended you highly. I hope she contacts you!

  11. Sheila,
    Good points here. Why so many of us just assume a Dr. knows best I have no idea. We need to speak and to ask questions.

  12. Great post, Sheila! So important to prepare for our meetings with health professionals — to consider what we want to get out of it and to be ready to answer the questions that are sure to arise in the consultation. THANKS, Katherine. ♥

  13. Sheila thank you for bringing attention to this topic! As licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctors we were taught to take the time to listen to patients to allow for the discovery of the underlying causes of the symptoms a patient is experiencing. We spend a minimum of 1.5 hours for the initial intake and our front office allows for 2 hours because we seem to run overtime! When facing chronic illness, it is rare to discover a curative approach in less then 5 minutes.
    In health,
    -Dr. G
    LTP Natural Medical Center
    Laguna Beach, CA

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