Practising what you preach is a difficult enough path far anyone to take. To do so in the full glare of the public gaze, even more so.
Dr. Andrew Tresidder, a Devonian, working in Somerset, but with a Cornish heritage, makes this balancing act sound deceptively simple. However, behind his cheerful and easy-going manner lies decades of dedicated work and hard-won experience.
Over the years, Andrew has progressively managed to combine being a fairly orthodox GP with an awareness of the effectiveness of complementary healing - and the administration of Bach flower-essences in particular.
His basic approach is that we all have a much greater ability, and responsibility, to cope with our own health than most conventional medical practices would encourage us to develop - and he puts it into action through his own mantra of ‘Inner Balance for an Effective Life.’
It is still quite rare to find a mainstream practitioner embracing the underlying causes of ill health in quite such a direct and matter-of-fact manner. In some cases, outlooks are expanding and developing in the field of healthcare generally, but even many of the more open-minded health professionals still regard the holistic approach to health as something of an add-on, a nice-to-have alongside the more necessary business of medication and surgery.
Although largely based on the need for cost saving measures in the NHS, there does seem to be a dawning awareness that the need for more dramatic interventions could be significantly reduced by adopting a more nuanced and thoughtful approach to wellbeing. Andrew is not only at the forefront of this slow-motion epiphany, he shows how it can be embedded - relatively easily - into our everyday lives. Taking the long view and standing back to appreciate the big picture don’t have to be incompatible with the relentless busyness and seemingly unavoidable stresses of modern society.
So much of the burgeoning need for medical intervention is concentrated on dealing with the visible, sensible, tangible problems stemming from rather less tangible undercurrents. AT’s contention is that if we were to pay more attention to the factors that encourage, if not directly cause, our current parlous state, then the need for many of the more dramatic, painful, inconvenient, dangerous - and indeed expensive - actions, could be greatly reduced.
Much has been made in the more alternative press of the uncomfortable relationship between bid pharma, the healthcare businesses and well-paid work in the medical profession. It is a model that seems to suit the providers at least as much as the receivers, and arguably treatments and approaches that detract from this cosy relationship are less likely to be encouraged in the framework of a fast-moving, financially-orientated and goal-driven environment.
Dr Tresidder’s philosophy demonstrates that this need not necessarily be the whole story. By adopting a more preventative approach, and by minimising some of the more corrosive stresses and some of the less helpful dietary inputs, we can go a long way to helping ourselves without feeding the bottomless desire of corporate interests.
Andrew’s latest book Health and Self-Care is a cornucopia of information and advice for taking back control of our own health, without turning our backs on the centuries of evolving conventional medical practice. The big difference with his approach is that it puts us, the potential patients and clients in the driving seat, with the big hitters of mainstream medicine as the backstop for when we get it wrong, or events spiral out of our potential ability to keep on top of them.
His work concentrates on the social and the psychological (even the intuitive and the psychic) aspects of our lives, which create the backcloth to our mental and physical wellbeing. While he is not alone in doing so, his ability to interweave this more progressive outlook with more conventional strategies certainly puts him in the vanguard of local general practice.
While he clearly makes a comfortable living out of both his traditional and his complementary work, it is interesting that all of the information and advice contained within Health and Self-Care is available as a free download online. Andrew is a man on a mission, but he manages to convey the essence of that serious endeavour ever-so-calmly, neither chiding nor preaching. Indeed his personable style, clear diction and amusing asides only helped reinforce that this was a presentation of some gravity, but one with content that is relevant, available and valuable to us all.
Since I first saw Andrew in action a couple of years ago at the Devon Dowsers, he has refined and improved the style of his delivery significantly. But you can’t help thinking that this development probably has much to do with his own personal development, manifesting itself as he grows in stature and confidence.
The audience was clearly thoroughly engaged throughout, and most seemed reluctant to depart, such was the interest and enthusiasm he had generated. Even after the main event, AT was surrounded by those wanting to take up his kind offer to help them drain their anxiety by the application of acupressure to the lower limb meridians. You don’t see that too often in your local GP’s surgery!
With almost 60 attending, and enough questions to make a whole weekend out of this talk, I am sure we will have Dr Andrew back with us again, in due course.
Many thanks to Andrew for coming down from Chard and, as ever, to all those who helped to set up this event, to run it, and to close it down again afterwards.