A naturopathic approach to corporate wellness: first do no harm
Naturopathic medicine distinguishes itself from other forms of practice with six guiding principles:
- First do no harm
- The healing power of nature
- Identify and treat the cause
- Treat the whole person
- Doctor as teacher
How can we apply these principles to corporate wellness? I believe that the approach that these principles guide could be very effective in combating our most pressing public health issues such as diabetes and obesity.
To begin let’s look at First do no harm. This principle is shared across all forms of medicine from different perspectives. In naturopathy, this means that therapeutic actions should complement the body’s natural healing abilities to correct the root cause of an illness rather merely suppress the symptoms of that illness.
Within the environment of workplace health promotion, I think this perspective can be utilized in a unique way. Here, First do no harm suggests that you must not project your own idea of wellness onto each employee. Do not “harm” their psyche by presenting the idea that their wellness is something you, as a coach, can directly change. Instead, work with each person to clarify and define their own idea of wellness, based on their own personal values. From there, provide them with information and tools and support and encouragement to make the gradual lifestyle changes that might be necessary to reach their personal health goals. Overall, rather than fixing what you perceive as their opportunities to improve their health (symptoms), you can work with them, within the boundaries of what they find important and feel capable of, to better their life in a way they feel empowered to affect (the root cause).