Therapeutic approach

Anthroposophic doctors use a combination of techniques to treat the patient as a full individual.

Anthroposophic medicine is designed to be complementary and explicitly requires its practitioners to train in conventional medicine; anthroposopic physicians are fully trained medical doctors, and anthroposophic nurses are registered nurses. They then undertake additional training to be able to use anthroposophic techniques in their practices.

Anthroposophic medical care involves a range of therapies offered by differed health professionals with different specialisations. It is also used in a variety of care settings, including in hospitals and for acute care. What unites them is a set of diagnostic frameworks designed to understand the health of the patient as a whole individual, and therapies designed to improve overall health rather than merely treat symptoms. Empathy, patient autonomy and the formation of a strong doctor-patient relationship is also central the anthroposophic therapeutic approach, an idea which is also gaining ground in conventional medicine as several literature  reviews demonstrate these relationships improve health outcomes.

Unique aspects of the anthroposophic approach

In anthroposophic medicine, health is a matter of balancing several factors that contribute to human well-being — including the physical body, conciousness and feeling, and thinking/self-actualisation, such as via art or cultural expression or spirituality.

An anthroposophic diagnosis might therefore look at physical symptoms – such as a severe infection – but also at lifestyle factors, such as poor nutrition or high stress, that could exacerbate or prolong the physical symptoms (or make a patient at risk of relapse in the future). Factors such as personal history, age, and other environmental or social factors that can influence a person’s overall health are all part of an anthroposophic medical diagnosis.

Anthroposophic doctors seek to understand the entire picture of a patient’s disease. This could include conventional diagnosis with a physical ailment as well as noted imbalances in any of the above three systems — such as troubles with eating normally, dulled senses, or insomnia. An analysis of these factors is also combined with a patient’s medical and personal history. On basis of this comprehensive assessment, a combination of conventional and anthroposophic medicines is chosen, tailored to the individual’s particular needs.

Statue of Hygieia, the Greek and Roman goddess of health. Photo by Sigismund von Dobschütz.

Types of anthroposophic therapy

Anthroposophic medical practices are undertaken by a variety of different professionals with differing specialties. Anthroposophic therapy types include:

Anthroposophic physicians prescribe both conventional and anthroposophic medicinal products (AMP), and use both conventional and anthroposophic therapeutic techniques, to maximise patient health outomes.

Anthroposophic nursing is practiced by registered nurses with specific additional skills in anthroposophic external applications such as compresses, body wrapping, and ” Rhythmical Einreibungen ” (a form of rhytmical touch), that aim to strengthen the patient’s self-healing forces.

Eurythmy therapy transforms speech and music into therapeutic movement exercises, and is practiced by trained Eurythmy therapists, a health profession unique to anthroposophic medicine.

Anthroposophic arts therapy uses speech, music, painting and sculpture for therapeutic processes. In addition to approaches from conventional art therapy, anthroposophic arts therapists use the characteristics of specific colours, sounds, and sculptural forms to influence healing processes.

Anthroposophic psychotherapy expands conventional psychotherapy skills, taking into account the physical, physiological, psychological and spiritual development of the individual. 

Anthroposophic body therapies, such as Rhythmic Massage, are practised by physiotherapists, nurses, naturopaths, osteopaths, or similar (according to national legislation) that have undergone additional training in an anthroposophic body therapy.