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  • Jo Farren

Behind the Backdrop

It's been over a year since I started working totally remotely, but I've been set up to do at least some of my work in this way for a number of years - and will continue to do so too after this is all over. I wanted to give you a bit of an insight into what to expect in a consultation, beyond the tidy looking backdrop of my clinic room.

Don't be fooled that my space always looks this tidy and organised - it doesn't and also know that there's a lot more that goes on behind the scenes, but what does a consult really look like? For the purpose of this article, I am talking about the 14 week herbal medicine programme but I do offer other services at the moment from antenatal support and education, right through to postnatal doulaing and parenting support.

For all new patients, I ask folk to complete a questionnaire prior to our first appointment, this helps me to capture some important admin questions and gives me some basic info on your health history and the reasons for working with me. Then in our first session I do ask you to tell me more about what's happening, in your own words. There's no right or wrong here and I may ask more specific questions or let the conversation flow so I can collect the information I need.

We will talk about things which might not seem relevant, but that absolutely help us to build a really clear picture of your health and wellness, so that I can meet you where you are right now and work out how to support you best.

After our first session, I usually go away and ruminate on what we have discussed, and formulate a prescription. This differs between patients because your medicine and support is bespoke to you - then I mix up your herbs and post them out to you. I usually follow up with a list of initial thoughts and suggestions which we can discuss at further appointments.

When we are working on the 14 week programme, week 2 is an in depth discussion into food (with no judgement here by the way) and how we can work to incorporate a range of super nutritious foods into your life and perhaps even make nourishing yourself a teeny bit easier. Week 3 is a deep dive into lifestyle, looking at how you spend your time and how that might be impacting health - again, no judgement - but hopefully lots of tools, tips and techniques to help manage stress levels and improve your health and wellbeing. Week 4 is an awareness week where we start to bring everything together and look at where you've been (health-wise) where you want to be and what other sources of support and information we can call on to provide that structure for you.

Having these four weeks of intensive consulting is so important in getting you on the right track to health and wellbeing: each week we reflect back and see what's working for you, what's not working for you (and why) and what we can do to remedy that. We work on so much more than just the nuts and bolts of herbal medicine, we talk about mindset, the reality of life, what's manageable, how to make the most of what you've got (time, resources, food!) and I signpost you to additional support and practitioners where I think it's relevant. I'm definitely not pretending I know it all, be reassured that you're gonna be getting quality support here (no egos involved).

The last weeks of our programme are reflecting back and seeing how you're getting on, and if anything else crops up in that time, addressing that and working on that. We sometimes go back and pick up tips from the early days too when relevant: It can take time for actions to form habits and so when we check back in, we can recall the earlier sessions and remind ourselves of some of the earlier strategies that we discussed, and see if we can weave those back into your day to day life.

My ultimate aim is that you don't need me any more - I mean, I'm here for you for as long as you need, but wouldn't it be great if the tools you learn in this programme, were enough for you to manage your own health and wellbeing, give or take perhaps a stressful life event, or a bout of illness, long term? I do work with people beyond the 14 weeks but so many people report that what we have worked on together has been so helpful that actually they can keep things ticking along just fine. That's the goal. That's the aim!

I'm super realistic in my work, I don't suggest unachievable lifestyle or diet changes and in forming a relationship, I'll learn how you work best too. I spend a lot of time and energy improving my skills and practise, and I recognise privilege in the world, in particular within the healthcare system and this is something I bring into my work. Of late there has been quite a lot of unrelatable content on social media about how to obtain wellness: I'm not about that. I'm about using what we have got available, what's realistic for YOU and working towards achievable goals and outcomes.

The reason why 14 weeks is successful is not only is that a decent amount of time for the herbs to do their thang, but it gives us time to find out what works well, what works not so well, and how we can pick up and try something new. As my kids say, mistakes are stepping stones to learning. If things get messy, we work with what we've got to make it work better next time round. Progress, not perfection: There is no 'ideal', you need to feel like you can do this, not that you're being swept away with some programme that just doesn't *quite* fit and that's asking you to do all manner or weird and wonderful things that don't feel right.

So if you've got something that you want to work on, drop me a line and let's chat. You never know where that one call could take you...

** At present my waiting list is open for the 14 week programme. It will close again in due course ***

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