The Homeopathic Times (Ireland)
It is not necessarily the homeopath who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the materia medica, an intelligent and flexible approach to case analysis and a comprehensive library who makes the best homeopath, according to Dr. Kaplan. He suggests that most people would rather consult with someone who has empathy and understanding and is a good listener. Thus the case-taking element is the real ‘art’ of homeopathy. It is only when the homeopath can appropriately take in and really understand the case that a good prescription can be made. The homeopathic process begins with the case-taking and it is here that we should be devoting more of our attention. I am becoming increasingly convinced that he is spot on and this comprehensive book not only addresses the importance of the homeopathic conversation but gives good background information on what that entails and how to make it better.
Dr. Brian Kaplan completed his studies in orthodox medicine in South Africa. Dissatisfaction with the long arduous scientific process and the actual practice of allopathic medicine led him to the study of homeopathy in the UK. It was the patient-doctor relationship that was missing in the medical model and studying homeopathy brought him back to this realisation and to his original vocation, long buried, as to why he chose to become a doctor in the first place. He has been practicing as a homeopath for more than 20 years. The first chapters of the book follow his evolution towards becoming a homeopath. Reflecting on one’s evolution has relevance to developing consultation skills. He suggests that we each ‘soul search’ as a first step in ‘knowing ourselves’ as Hahnemann suggests. This is only the beginning of a long exciting progress that should continue throughout our careers. In his studies of homeopathy, he noted that most available literature was focused on three important aspects: Materia Medica, repertories (books and computer programmes) and books on homeopathic theory. While all these are extremely important, they do not cover the all-important first step in helping a patient and entering the process of finding the right remedy. This is done in the case consultation – the most crucial factor in the practice of homeopathy, as Dr. Kaplan believes. The Organon, which is quoted throughout, fully devotes paragraph 83 to 99 to the homeopathic interview and gives valuable advice about the state a homeopath should strive for throughout. So, more attention should be devoted to this aspect.
Dr. Kaplan takes us through his influences and learning through other disciplines – mainly in the fields of psychotherapeutics (i.e. Freud, Jung, Reich, Buber) and counseling. Carl Rogers, who was most influential to him in the counseling area, describes the three vital qualities of the effective counsellor to be: empathic understanding, unconditional positive regard and congruence, which say exactly what Hahnemann means regarding the ideal consultation – non-directive, client-centred and non-judgmental. Both counsellor and the homeopath need to enter the psychological world of the patient. He further discusses NLP (though with some misgivings) and other techniques that he uses in eliciting a patient’s story.
Treating children, other homeopaths, doctors and scientists, psychotherapists and their patients are all given special considerations and insights, each getting their own chapter, in how to approach or what to look for in case-taking. Dr. Kaplan even offers a chapter on non-verbal clues and offers suggestions and samples to use for questionnaires (should one wish to use one – he does not).
He ends by discussing the all-important role of supervision, especially post graduate supervision which is sorely needed by homeopaths where, as yet, we are not authorities. We cannot be ‘without prejudice’ unless we articulate and work with our unconscious forces. He is convinced that getting to ‘know yourself’ and the feelings elicited by patients will increase your prescribing abilities. This book contains many stimulating thoughts, recommended readings, hints and exercises that one can use in developing both as a practitioner and as a person. Highly recommended…
Kate Soudant LicBSH ISHom