Activity transitions in the homoeopathic therapeutic encounter


  • John Chatwin


Homoeopathy is one of the most widespread forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) currently used in the UK. As an overtly holistic discipline, the homoeopathic consultation process is often regarded as being intrinsically patient-centred. This paper will argue that although an underlying mutualistic or collegial approach is often evident in homoeopathy, there are certain points in a consultation where these types of behaviour are more overt. It is suggested that these points are likely to be located where there is a predictable possibility of misalignment between letting the patient set the agenda, and the practical needs of the consultation process – ie the performance of certain essential consultation ‘tasks’. In order to illustrate this, one particular aspect of the homoeopathic consultation will be examined – the ‘treatment-giving’ phase. Four broad transitional formats will be proposed: categorical; open; deferred; and reversed. The relatively dynamic sequential positioning that the treatment phase occupies in the homoeopathic context will be highlighted, as will the implications that this may have in terms of encouraging patient / practitioner negotiation over treatment decisions.