from Aumdoc’s Holistic Healing Archive (circa 2003)
Developing a healthy relationship with therapeutic caregivers brings good things into your life. Finding care that suits you, and your resources, is not always an easy task. Once accomplished, the benefits are many. I encourage people to develop multiple layers of healing support. As a holistic physician, I like to expand options for supporting their growth and health. For the purpose of this article I am going to discuss ‘professional therapeutic relationships’. Professional implying that there is a monetary, or other (e.g. barter or trade), exchange for the services provided. So I am including all interactions with physicians (Medical, Chiropractic, Naturopathic, Osteopathic; Homeopathic, etc) therapists, counselors, body-workers, nutritionists, reflexologists, energy healers (and all other healers, of any variety, that I certainly don’t want to leave out.). These relationships may, or may not, be sanctioned by the state (through licensing, etc.). They might involve a single visit, though here I am addressing more long term relationships.
When I hear people express particular satisfaction, I have found that the relationship contains certain qualities that define it in my mind as a “Healing Partnership”. The criteria that define a Healing Partnership are not about the specialty of the practitioner. These are archetypal ideals that crosses boundaries of specialty, culture and politics. While influenced by consensus reality, it really is about the relationship between two individuals. Many people have written about healthy healing relationships in the past, here are a few of my ideas.
I’d like to define some qualities of these Healing Partnerships. If these qualities are recognized in the relationship, then I feel fruitful healing work will come out of it. Probably most healing relationship will not fill all of these criteria. This is not a checklist; rather it is more about relationship.
Here are some qualities that I often find present in fruitful Healing Partnerships:
Healing partnerships are just that, a partnership between two people working together toward a common goal, in this case creating health. Traditional western medicine has typically been a very vertical relationships with the paternalistic physician above dictating orders to the childlike patient below. Healing Partnership are about working together and sharing power. The decisions should be shared but the final choice is ALWAYS YOURS.
REVOLVES AROUND YOUR STORY
The work is focused on your personal story. It is not a cookbook method; you could read the cookbook yourself! It is not the same thing for each person. Your evaluation, and intervention initiated, is designed around the unique story and circumstances that are you and your life. Utilizing the benefit of consensus common knowledge (e.g. medical knowledge, in my case) helps to guide what is done.
YOUR LIFESTYLE CREATES HEALTH
Care that fits this archetype continually focuses attention to our day-to-day lifestyle: how we eat, sleep, exercise and experience emotions for example. The daily baseline circumstances of our physical, emotional and spiritual worlds have the greatest impact on health over a lifetime. Healing Partnerships seek to empower US to transform dysfunctional aspects of lifestyle and self.
THE PRACTITIONER IS LISTENING
If your story is not being heard then care cannot revolve around your needs. If you feel that the practitioner is not hearing you, they probably aren’t. And, we all want to be heard, especially around something as important as our health.
The practitioner provides you with some framework of what to expect from your work together. If instituting a new therapy, it is helpful to understand what is a reasonable trial period before expecting results. If something takes a month to work and you are expecting results in 2 days, you will be very dissatisfied and probably discontinue the therapy. Also clear expectations of approximate financial, commitments are very reasonable expectations. These issues are about clear communication.
If you are an individual who lives a naturally oriented organic lifestyle, maybe someone who uses herbs more than medications, that is the type of practitioner you would want to be in relationship with. Though, that might not be available to you. Maybe serious issues have developed and you need to see a cardiologist or surgeon. Often, a specialist oriented to your lifestyle is not available. Expecting the specialist to understand, and learn about, all the organic things you do in your life is probably not a reasonable expectation. Expecting them to change their approach to medicine and treat you utilizing alternative approaches will most likely result in disappointment. What you need is a good cardiologist, or surgeon, and expecting that is appropriate. That they treat you with respect, inform you of your options and help your serious medical situation… that is what you need from them. You can have your other Healing Partners support you in the ways you are used to.
SERVICE, NOT PRODUCT, ORIENTED
Tests and products (such as dietary supplements) can be extremely helpful when integrated into a healing program. Most importantly, any program should be about empowering you make positive changes in your life. Beware of any practice that seems to revolve around selling products or procedures. Practitioners providing products through their office (such as supplements) can be very helpful to their clients, saving time shopping, money and confusion about what to use. But if it seems more about selling the product then something is wrong.
AYNI (SACRED RECIPROCITY)
“Today for me, tomorrow for you”; Quechua speaking Andean peoples understand the sacred relationship between people and between people and the natural world. Giving and receiving allows flow of energy to occur. Giving without receiving causes emptiness. You can receive more if you are giving because you are just making more room to be filled up. So expect there to be exchange of money, trade or barter for the services rendered.
ACKNOWLEDGES OPTIONS AND AVOIDS DOGMA
Optimizing your healing journey includes expanding options for care. Having more tools to work with is a good thing. This needs to be balanced with focus so that the work isn’t too scattered. Any time something is presented dogmatically as “the only way” options are immediately limited. This leads to a path of resistance to what is being offered. Respectful approaches to care are receptive to options and choices. This expands healing opportunity.
ENCOURAGES THE DEVELOPMENT OF OTHER HEALING PARTNERSHIPS
Most individuals benefit from many layers of support and should actively cultivate this in their lives. Friends and family can do things for you that a therapist can never do for you. And a therapist may help you in ways friends and families are unable to. It is good to develop a web-work of support in your life, nurturing you on many levels; body, mind and spirit.
Work with your healing partner will generally take place over long periods of time, months to years. They are relationships that often develop into friendships as well. The intensity of the work often wax’s and wanes depending on the flow of life circumstances. At first it may be useful to do more frequent and intensive work. As issues resolve and transform, the work may lighten; only to once again naturally intensify at a later date, as needed. This ebb and flow usually is a reflection of inner and outer circumstances of the individual’s life. When there is more turmoil, the work is more frequent and fruitful. When things are more stable, the work together is less. Occasional maintenance is a good thing, regardless of circumstances. That’s called preventative medicine and is an opportunity to utilize intuition. Then you can be proactive in creating health, rather than just reactive.
May you have a safe and fruitful healing journey!