The Empath's Guide to Navigating the Healthcare System

The healthcare system (in the U.S.) feels so scary.

That’s a strong statement—and it seems odd to put it in writing when most healthcare workers (many of them empaths*) have the best of intentions, not to mention all that they have been through over the past year.

But these days, I have a greater awareness of my emotions—and when it comes to the healthcare system, I’m noticing a lot of fear.

It’s not just concerns around finding a doctor, or whether insurance will cover the costs.  It’s not just about the clinical spaces with florescent lighting, or the medical marketing signage in lieu of artwork and plants.  It’s not just about signing documents written in legalese, or filing out the forms (now in online systems) that prompt you to list pre-existing conditions, or all of the diseases that affected a parent, or grandparent (all before connecting with a doc).  It’s not just the fear of medications and surgeries presented as necessary “or else,” while unconventional modalities are dismissed.  It’s not just seeing news reports on the opioid crisis, or CEOs’ (pharma, hospital admin, insurance) salaries and soaring profits, while so many go without the care they need.

Yikes! That’s a lot of triggering to experience before I even make it to the automated phone system!

To complicate the situation even further:  What if you’re not someone who works in the system and knows the lingo and processes?  What if you’re a coach/energy healer/practitioner who works outside of the system to offer a more holistic perspective?

My own perspective changed ten years ago when I contemplated leaving my 20+ year corporate career to start a coaching business and sought training in several areas:

  • Life coaching focused on transmuting cultural conditioning into authentic truths so I could make some life changes (which does wonders for frustrating physical symptoms!).
  • Intuitive coaching connected me with support from the invisible realms, and helped me trust my inner knowing so I could help others do the same.
  • Mind-body/somatic coaching revealed how physical symptoms show up as a result of emotional re/suppression, how different parts of myself can be in conflict with each other, and how much my health is affected by work, and relationships with Self, and others.
  • Core shamanism invited me to see people in their strength (no matter what they have going on), and offered ceremonies with intentions for experiencing more vitality as well as revealing and expressing the gifts they came to share with their community.
  • Tension & Trauma Release Exercise (TRE) provided a scientific perspective on the nervous system, and its role in protecting us from danger.  A clearer definition of trauma (physiological response vs. event) also offered insights into the implications of chronic stress and anxiety when it goes unprocessed (Thankfully, TRE offers a way to release the tension and trauma patterns!).
  • Yoga (meaning union) introduced me to Eastern perspectives to healthcare, while the practice itself offered greater awareness of my body, mind, and emotions. 
  • Reiki brought all of my training together to create and hold a safe space for nervous systems to relax so that healing could take place—just by radiating light.

Can you see how someone with such a background can feel triggered when entering a system that’s pressed for time, and focused primarily on physical symptoms and dis-ease?

While there's lots of triggers, I realized that my fears primarily revolved around entering an energy field where my sixth sensory inner knowing won't be acknowledged, listened to, and/or judged and ridiculed. How would the doctor have time to listen? Will my nervous system shut down and freeze when I feel judgements of “there’s something ‘wrong' with me” vs. an imbalance prompting life changes to explore?  Will they focus on an expensive solution that seems invasive without considering/offering other options? How can they even see the connection between my mind, body, emotions and spirit, when their training has focused on the body?

To put it simply…Can I trust them?

The key to navigating the healthcare system as an Empath is to learn how you can trust yourself—to care for yourself. This applies to anyone; however, because Empaths tend to focus on others’ needs before their own, trusting themselves can feel unfamiliar.

The first question to answer for yourself is:  Do I want to see a broader list of choices?

If yes, and you’d like to include conventional/allopathic medicine in that list of choices available to you, read on.  

The next question is: How can I make empowered decisions in an environment that’s so triggering (and thus affecting my decision-making abilities)? How can I navigate the healthcare system in an empowered way?

The ideas below center around creating and holding a safe space for your nervous system to relax, so you can set an intention and use your sensitivity to collect the data you need to see a broader list of choices. 


  • Find a doctor/practitioner. As a coach who's made significant marketing investments (website, coaching, training, social media, etc) so that my ideal clients can find me, I’m always amazed when I can’t find a doctor’s pic and profile. The process of looking up doctor profiles can help to shift the energy when it seems as though your choices are limited by geography (although telemedicine is on the rise) and insurance/finances. In addition to criteria such as state board certification (with its standards of care) and years in practice, your intuitive abilities can be used to review a profile and picture and see if you resonate. Tip: While referrals from friends can expand your choices, notice if you're still using your intuitive abilities to discern whether a doctor is "right" for you. 
  • Check the balance of power. The more authority you associate with a doctor, the more you'll need to check-in to see if you’ve unconsciously handed over your power/decision-making.  To do that, try this exercise:  1) Imagine the doctors/nurses/providers in a bubble, then give it a color, 2) Imagine yourself in a bubble, and give it a color, 3) Review the two bubbles side to side.  How do they compare in size?  Does one seem more important than the other?
  • Set an intention.  What is the ideal scenario for how you would like your symptoms to be addressed?  How do you want to feel when you’re interacting with doctors and staff (including insurance, etc)?  What experiences do you want to have? Do you want them to focus on diagnostic tests and then source additional support elsewhere? How do you want to feel during and after your time in the healthcare system?  
  • Ask yourself, “What do I need to care for myself in this environment?”  Would it be helpful to bring a list of questions to the appointment?  Would it be helpful to have a supportive someone join you? Is there someone who can give you details on what to expect? Do you want to have a chat with the surgeon about creating a sacred space during the surgery (e.g., music, conversation is respectful…)?
  • Heal the triggers. The activities above involve connecting with your intuition, but if you're finding it difficult, consider reaching out to someone who can help you dissolve the triggers that are bringing your past into the present. For example, I recently reached out to a NET practitioner (who happens to have an allopathic background) for support for some frustrating physical symptoms and navigating the healthcare system.  One of the outcomes was bringing awareness to a belief (and associated emotions, memories) that "authority figures can’t be trusted." With this belief transmuted, I was able to take action from the present moment (where it’s safe) vs. letting the past (when it wasn’t) take over.  If you can relate and would like some support, feel free to reach out for a free call at:

During the Visit

Listening to stay connected. Stephen Porges, Ph.D, who coined the term neuroception, identified several cues that signal danger to your nervous system:

    • Environments with harsh lighting and low frequency sounds.
    • People who lack eye contact, fascial expression and gestures, and whose voice is more monotone.

If you notice (listen) the sensations in your body, it can reveal how your nervous system is responding to cues of safety, or danger. For example, if you're in a noisy waiting room and you notice your heart rate increasing, or while interacting with the doctor, you start to shut down, you can try these steps:

  • Bring your awareness to your breath at your low belly.
  • Notice the most beautiful thing in the room. Maybe it’s the natural light coming through the window, or a favorite color in the brochures.
  • Notice the  support of whatever you are sitting on.

When you feel safe, you’re not only more likely to hear what the doctor is saying, but you can also access your inner wisdom to determine what you need to care for yourself.  This will help you to relax and tune into your intuition where you can ask yourself, "What questions do I have?  Am I feeling empowered, or disempowered?" 

If you notice that they are saying something that does not resonate with you, that's okay. I recently had a couple of visits where I expressed frustration with weight gain. Their responses were, "That's just getting older," and "It's just another part of perimenopause." I noticed that I felt anger. It was clear to me that this did not resonate; however, after I noticed how I was feeling, I tuned into their intention. Both were just offering a way for some self-compassion—to not make the weight gain wrong. This is healing in itself as the nervous system can relax!   Still, sometimes I wonder what it would be like if they had used some unconventional modalities to help me tap into my frustration with the weight gain.  Could they uncover what I was making the weight gain mean to reveal some old programming that was causing stress?  Would they find that a psychic attack from a decade ago had been affecting my GI tract?  What if they tested for the toxic heavy metals, pesticides, lawn chemicals, as well as adrenaline levels, that feed viruses and create a sluggish liver?  Ah well. 


Many doctor's offices now have portals where can email any questions that may not have been addressed during the visit. Tip: Notice if you’re falling into “They’re too busy to respond (meaning “more important”) thinking.

What are some of the other strategies that you’ve used to navigate the healthcare system in an empowered way?   Feel free to share in the comments/reply to this e-mail. I’d love to hear from you!

In summary, the triggers that come with our current healthcare system are a great way to question the belief that you don’t have choices. 

Perhaps when more of us are able to tune into the “doctor” within, the more we’ll see the choices available to us within and outside the system.  Who knows?  Perhaps there will be so many people who are aligned with what they need that it influences discussions on a healthcare system that values a holistic approach.

We all deserve healthcare, and in the process, we all need and deserve to be heard, to be accepted and to feel safe speaking our truth.  We all deserve to feel empowered at all levels when navigating the healthcare system. If you, or someone you know, want to see a broader list of choices available, feel free to reply to schedule a free discovery call with me at:  As a coach who creates and holds a safe space for you to tune into your inner wisdom, I enjoy working with Empaths (those who feel the emotions of others as if they are their own) who often experience frustrating physical symptoms, and exhaustion, so they can support themselves with those experiences that bring fulfillment and joy. 

*Empaths are those who can feel others’ emotions as if they are their own.  Click here to learn whether you might be an empath:


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