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Non-Therapeutic or Therapeutic?

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How do you know whether a service or procedure is non-therapeutic or therapeutic? Generally, a therapeutic procedure is intended to treat a disease or condition or the symptom of one. A non-therapeutic procedure is intended to increase the level of health and well being of the individual. Discerning whether a service or procedure is therapeutic or non-therapeutic is difficult because many services and procedures can be used in either way, depending on the intent of the provider and/or the desire of the receiver. For example, dietary supplements or even diet itself can be used for the purpose of treating or preventing certain diseases including obesity. On the other hand, good eating habits can be done for the purpose of maintaining one’s health without regard for a particular condition or disease. The same is true for exercise and even chiropractic. Some people get adjusted to be relieved of a back problem or some other condition. Some get adjusted regularly simply because they understand that chiropractic raises the level of one’s health and well-being.

Unfortunately, one cannot always tell whether a procedure is therapeutic or non-therapeutic by the recipient’s actions. I am sure that there are many people who come to our office, even come on a regular basis, but are coming for the relief of a condition. They use chiropractic for a therapeutic purpose. So unless we know with certainty what their desire or objective is, their actions may be deceiving.

So how can one know whether a procedure is non-therapeutic or therapeutic? I believe there are four criteria.

1. The procedure is strictly a health-promoting procedure. Of course, we need to establish what health is. If health is the harmonious function of all the body’s organs and parts, then any procedure that is used solely for disease treatment or prevention could not possibly be non-therapeutic. Antibiotics do not promote health. They are designed to kill micro-organisms. They may be necessary on certain occasions but they are not promoting health. On occasions antibiotics may be given prophylactically, however they are not going to elevate the level of health. All drugs would be eliminated under this criteria. If you define health as feeling better, then an aspirin would fall into the category of health-promoting. However, we do not define health that way. Attempting to make someone feel better is always therapeutic and always has been. It should be noted that feeling better may be the side effect, a welcomed side effect, of a non-therapeutic procedure on occasions. People do feel better under chiropractic care but that is not the non-therapeutic chiropractor’s objective. It is always the desired effect of a therapeutic procedure.

2. Non-therapeutic procedures can be done for a “healthy” person. By “healthy,” I mean someone who has no apparent problems, who is not suffering from a physical malady and is not having the procedure or service done for a therapeutic reason. No one who understands health (as we are defining it) would take a drug to elevate their health. There are people at the gym who are working out, not because they are overweight, or have a heart problem, or to get in shape, or to have a Mr. Universe body, but simply because they know it is good for their health to exercise regularly. People may eat nutritional foods for that same reason and they may go to the chiropractor for that reason. They may even have a medical problem, one that necessitates therapeutic procedures, but eat well, exercise and/or go to a chiropractor simply because all those things will raise their health level regardless of what condition they have or do not have. They want as high a level of health as possible. A person who gives every appearance of being healthy and is still doing non-therapeutic things is addressing health. Of course we realize that every person who appears healthy may not be, but here we are addressing the intent of the recipient and the objective of the provider.

3. The procedure recognizes and utilizes the inborn intelligence of the body. Non-therapeutic approaches are aimed at one of two things: either they enable the inborn wisdom of the body to utilize material (good food) or activity (exercise) to improve the quality of the matter of the body or they are removing an interference to the full expression of the body. A therapeutic procedure attempts to change the quality or the quantity of the matter of the body to conform to the professional’s preconceived idea of what the body should be. A therapeutic approach assumes that the professional knows what the material of the body should look like or what characteristic it should exhibit. A non-therapeutic approach makes no such assumptions.

4. The procedure does not reflect upon the practitioner but upon the innate intelligence of the body. A therapeutic procedure reflects upon the therapist. He or she determines the need, administers the procedure to bring about the change and then determines that his or her ministrations brought about the desired result. The non-therapeutic procedure, on the other hand, makes no such judgments. It does not determine anything more than the fact that the body will be better off with that procedure. The person using exercise non-therapeutically does not measure his/her progress (weight loss, bigger biceps, etc.). He/she just knows that the material which the innate intelligence is expressed through will be better off with the exercise. The person administering non-therapeutic nutrition does not look for changes in the body but knows that the quality of the body’s material will be better by virtue of the substances placed in it. A professional assumes he/she can know what the body’s nutritional needs are, a controversial point among chiropractors. As a chiropractor, I cannot know what another person’s nutritional needs are but I would not rule out the possibility of someone else having that expertise. I do respect the position that anyone other than the person himself or herself would be practicing therapeutically. The chiropractor is not looking for change but knows that when an interference has been removed, the body will be expressing more of its innate potential and hence will be better off. That change is based on logic, not empirical changes.

There is clearly a place for the therapeutic approach as well as the non-therapeutic approach. If we are to be successful in our quest in teaching health and well-being, we must be able to first identify which category a particular procedure or service belongs to and, most important, we must make every effort to encourage people to incorporate non-therapeutic approaches into their lives. v26n1

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