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The One Tool to Help You Get Results as a Functional Practitioner - Blog Image

The One Tool to Help You Get Results as a Functional Practitioner

BY: Andrea Nakayama

DATE: 2019-10-22

If I were to ask you what caused you to become interested in the field of nutrition, you’d likely tell me a personal story. Maybe you were sick. Or you watched your partner, child, parent, or dearest friend suffer. Perhaps you’re motivated by global pain and suffering, and, for your own unique reasons, you felt called to be a part of the solution. For me, it’s all of the above!

If I were to listen to your story with a discerning ear, I’d better understand your passion—what brought you to Functional Nutrition, who you most want to help, and why. I’d also understand how to better help you to achieve your goals because I’d know some key facts about who you are, where you’re coming from, and what’s led you to your current circumstances.

That power of story extends to our work as Functional Nutrition Counselors. Your clients’ stories contain invaluable clues that can help you discover:

  • why they’re suffering

  • what causes underly their most pressing symptoms

  • where to focus dietary and lifestyle recommendations to help bring them the most relief

The power of story

“Without story, people are just a pile of symptoms.” 

These are the words shared during a graduate roundtable with Functional Nutrition Alliance Certified Functional Nutrition & Lifestyle Practitioner (FNLP), Amber Robertson. She’s spot on!

Without your personal story you’re just another practitioner to the people who don’t know you. With your story, you’re a real person. Someone with a history, a dream, and likely a lot of powerful events behind and in front of you — events that have shaped who you are and enabled you to make connections with those you serve (and want to serve).

Likewise, stories humanize our clients. Stories are windows into their past, ancestral factors, and the lifestyle elements that may hold the key to unlocking what’s next. While questionnaires enable us to elicit important client data, the most impactful insights often emerge from the stories clients share. Harnessing the power of story requires a certain level of skill and discernment. In fact, it’s part of what we call the ART of Counseling.

Where can stories go wrong? While stories can be illuminating, they can also become quagmires of negativity. Stories can cause clients to wallow in their narratives and focus on their wounds.When that happens, stories can stand in the way of our work. Some clients might even spend time and energy spinning stories about why they can’t follow recommendations. Time to serve, not please!Because of this, some practitioners grow to dread story to the point that they avoid it.

If you find yourself drained after sessions, trapped in feeling more like a friend than a professional, it may be time to rethink your approach. Rest assured, with the right tools and training, story can be what sets you apart as a practitioner who gets results.

The functional reframe: listening with purpose

Unfortunately, without the right tools, and the right lens, you and your clients are liable  to fall victim to the dark side of story. The solution is to listen for three key elements.

One of these elements is what in Functional Medicine and Functional Nutrition we call a Mediator.. A mediator is anything that influences your client’s symptoms-positively or negatively. It could be a certain food, sleep quality, relationship dynamics, level of physical activity, or a multitude of other factors. We all have many meditators!

Identifying these mediators requires a discerning ear. Your client might not connect emotional encounters with symptom flares, but you can pick that out of their story, if you learn to listen carefully. By listening for mediators and employing a functional reframe, you can guide the conversation to uncover crucial clues and reduce unnecessary storytelling.

As a reminder, Functional Nutrition is a way of practicing that uses proven systems and tools to get to the root causes of your clients’ issues. It doesn’t just alleviate symptoms; it addresses why they exist in the first place. Functional Nutrition isn’t a formula that works sometimes, but rather a system that works all the time.

So, if you, like me, recognize that cookie cutter formulas just don’t cut it, Functional Nutrition may be your answer. Start with story and begin listening for mediators today. You’ll be amazed at the power it holds and therein begin to understand the power of Functional Nutrition.

For more on the use of story in clinical care, tune into this solo episode of the 15-Minute Matrix where I map the powers of story on the Functional Nutrition Matrix.

Andrea Nakayama

By: Andrea Nakayama, FxNA Founder & Functional Medicine Nutritionist

Functional Nutrition Alliance provides the comprehensive online Functional Nutrition training in the Science & Art of the Functional Nutrition practice. Learn to address the roots of your clients’ suffering with client education, diet & lifestyle modifications.


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