It’s the end of January and I’m finally getting my monthly essay posted. It feels too late to say “Happy New Year” but it is never a bad time to wish you all good luck, good health, love, success, and beauty in your life.
Lot’s has happened since the beginning of December when the last essay came out. Together with my friend and colleague Mary Ann Macri, I birthed The Living Bridge – Centre for Social Evolution. The Living Bridge is a vehicle to further and support change and new awareness in the field of health care and personal support – as large as that field can be imagined.
The idea for the Centre came when Mary Ann and I reflected once again on the wonderful changes that are already happening in the health care field: naturopathic doctors are now openly and proudly advertising their services; increasing numbers of patience and clients are searching out holistic practitioners; allopathic doctors and hospitals are encouraging patients to seek support in complementary healing methods such as Therapeutic Touch or Reiki; alternative modalities and more spiritually-based approaches are streaming out of the clinical closet to claim their place in the mental health care field; indigenous healing remedies and values are regaining importance and many a mother is turning back to the herbal teas and cold compresses she received in her childhood when treating her own children’s winter cold.
However, we also recognized that there is more to do. And part of that required work is to be done by the many professional, capable, and compassionate practitioners who provide some of the above services to the public. In recent years, the city of Toronto has done much to rethink and re-regulate the health care field. Not all the decisions have been taken well by the holistic community and it’s clients. But that is a discussion for another time. The question we asked ourselves is this: What needs to happen for holistic, complementary health providers to be taken more seriously? The answer, it seems, is: they need to learn to take themselves seriously!
As I typed this I could hear the wave of protest going through the ranks out there. “Of course we take ourselves serious. It’s others who don’t see the value of the work.” And many of those protesting would probably be right. But there still is a large number of holistically working practitioners out there who doubt the value of their own work. One of the reasons I know is because I work with them. Here are some of the signs of such hesitancy:
- Not wanting to ask for any money for services or sticking with the belief that “what I need will come” (true, surrender is important – but so is paying the rent and feeding the children).
- Apologizing to clients because their services aren’t covered by their insurance (again, there is a financial reality for the client – and then there is their new car, the leather jacket and the latest video game for the children. Most clients could afford your treatment if they saw its value.)
- Not wanting to or not practising explaining their services and their value to the client (I’ve heard people say: “If they don”t believe in it, it won’t work anyways. So they really need to find out about it themselves.”)
- Giving in when the going gets rough (there is a belief that “if it was meant to be it will happen, otherwise maybe I’m not on the right path.”)
In short, there is a fear of treating this work as a business, following some general rules of business (such as requiring payment), and promoting their services like a viable business.
At the same time there are allopathic practitioners – and some complementary practitioners of the more “traditional” methodologies such as massage therapy or physiotherapy – who are deeply interested in holistic and even spiritual approaches but won’t integrate them into their practice out of fear of public reaction. I have heard a naturopathic doctor say that she can’t have talks about spirit guides in her clinic while at the same time she is using crystal-healing techniques. We often reject what we don’t know because we fear the change that this could mean.
But change happens. And most often it is for the good, even if it doesn’t always feel like it in the beginning. The way we are looking at our bodies, our health, and our values is changing. Some say it’s high time. Some say it’s too late. However we look at it – it is now, here, and we are a part of it. For those of us involved in health care in any way (and I include parents, teachers, care-givers, social workers – hey, even gardeners and school bus drivers – into this list) this is our time. If we have chosen this field at this time in history, we have chosen a responsibility of supporting the movement towards healthy integration.
There is a way to bring allopathic, complementary, holistic and spiritual healing together as supporting partners to the highest good of ALL concerned. Step one is to explore our own position on the playing field; discover our strengths and weaknesses, our false beliefs and limiting hopes; do what it takes to move our practices of service into the world of business and respectability. Only when we stand behind our work, point to real results, and demand the respect that this work deserves will we be seen and respected as an integral part of the whole. And only then can this current shift to higher and truly Wholistic Health Care be completed. It’s up to us to make it happen. Resistance is futile.