Do no harm first; is supposed to be the first moto of any health practitioner, healer or therapist.
As a healer or therapist we often just want to help or be of service. And of course be taken seriously as a complementary aid to health and wellbeing. But the reality is, there can be as much client negligence in holistic medicine as there is in modern medicine, it just isn’t as obvious or talked about.
When we think of harm we often quickly jump to more serious physical injury but harm can come in all disguises. And in holistic medicine there can be as just as much physical, mental or emotional harm than in mainstream medicine. I have been on both sides of the coin; I have been the patient, the client, the student, the victim as well as the healer, the teacher coach…
As someone who has suffered from rare health conditions since a young age I have been at the mercy of the medical profession from my late teens and the holistic industry for over 25. Although I developed my own passion and career in the holistic industry. Here also lay some of my biggest life lessons and life challenges. When I lay at the ignorance, naivety and even manipulation of healers and therapists who sometimes did more harm than good.
This would be a very very long blog if I had to go through many of the shocking experiences I endured. But this is not just something I alone have experienced sadly I have been told of similar stories from clients and even some of my friends who ended up in this field.I don’t believe anyone comes into this industry to do actual harm but as ignorance comes in all sort of disguises. I believe a lot of the experiences I suffered came from complete lack of awareness, many presumptions, lack of knowledge, training and of course lack of experience and wisdom. But without these experiences I wouldn’t have been the healer, coach and therapist I have been.
I Believe Every Healer Or Therapist Should Consider Below
- Don’t Take A Risk; Never risk a clients health I have had on more than one occasion a therapist or healer say this will be fine…and I ended up very ill, some extreme serious relapses. Later most said I didn’t think you were that ill or didn’t really understand….One situation where a therapist didn’t look up a rare condition I had properly. nearly cost me my eye. They convinced me they had did proper research of my rare condition ( they actually looked up another common eye condition) and promised me this product could help heal my eye. . By luck I had an eye appointment in the next few days.My specialist was horrified, my eye was already dangerously low and dropped so low it was really serious, thankfully I stopped the treatment quick enough. I felt very stupid but I was in my twenties and was suffering from threatened eye loss. Clients can be extremely vulnerable and not always in a state of mind to make the best decision. I have had so many herbalists, nutritionalists and therapists take risks with products that contained ingredients that I mentioned I had problems with. But who insisted the products were fine… which then caused serious complications to my health. A recent type of metal detox ended up causing me 3 months of serious teeth and bone infection and increase in seizures and motor skill issues because it was far too fierce for my body to handle. Better safe than sorry.
- Never Make Assumptions; On too many occasions I had therapists assume my conditions actually meant something else. Hence they actually treated me for something else such as a contra-indication to my condition. Like the one above that nearly cost me my eye, two caused internal bleeding others causes very serious relapses in my health. If unsure about a clients condition, symptoms ask. Clients will often know more than you do, about their own health; it is about how and what you ask. If its an unusual condition or more mysterious type illness ask the right questions to get a bigger picture. I was diagnosed with M.E. over 25 years during the worste stages of my illness I was bed-bound, would go paralysed and was hospitalised. I invested in tens of thousands in my health trying for a cure. I had so many therapists make false promises. Many would say things like oh we thought you were just tired or were vitamin deficient or this or that. So many people make so many assumptions about specific conditions. I know many people who are diagnosed with CFS and M.E. And believe me many of there symptoms are so different in complexity or severity that suggests these terms are just umberella terms for illnesses without proper diagnosis..I was mercury poisoned at the initial stage of a post viral type illness but I also had the sign of possible tick bites (possible lymes disease at 14 years) along with a rare condition from a baby. So despite the M.E .diagnosis, symptoms that seriously affected my quality of life. I had a complex medical history so nothing was never totally clear and straight forward. There is huge gaps in most healers and therapist expertise and knowledge just like the medical professionals and you have to keep your ego in check to remember that you won’t know everything.
- Don’t Hard Sell; Don’t use heavy hard sales, clients with chronic health challenges often experience all sorts of manipulation from healers, therapists and health distributors. Be cautious about selling products or services, that aren’t the right fit for their condition or situation. This is something sadly I experienced a lot of, and sometimes if I didn’t buy or go with them I would get comments like, you don’t want to get better. It is hard to swallow when most of your life and income has been invested in that area. It doesn’t matter how badly your struggling to get clients this is a manipulation of power and one sure way to ensure you lose potential clients or leave clients feeling dis-empowered or worse. It will harm your business in the long run.
- Don’t Cold Sell: This is getting more common on social media where people just invade other people’s personal inbox with their services. Asking you to be their friend so they can invite you to come to their event or buy their product. Imagine sitting at home and you start getting cold calls at your door or on the phone. Asking you to buy this nutritional product, coaching event or meditation class. Especially with people you have no connection or relationship with. It isn’t exactly comfortable, safe, boundaried, ethical is it? Also it is worse when the product has no relevance to your needs I have studied reiki and different types of meditation for 25 years, and as a teacher in these fields I regularly get invited by complete strangers on facebook to a reiki 1 or mindfulness class. It is very clear the person has just invited everybody and anybody and is one way to turn off possible facebook fans or supporters.
- Don’t make bold claims on results unless you can back it up with medical evidence or plenty of testimonials. Consumers are so much more market savvy and have been at the other side of so many miracle claims often by health products promising the world. Sadly so many healer or therapists naively believe the claims from many health and nutritional companies who they are a distributor for. Sadly it can take many distributors and therapists a few years to realise that those bold claim were for usually for a low percent of clients or in-case of nutritional products clients who’s condition was caused by poor eating habits and lack of adequate nutrition. Be careful these companies never tell you about the millions of people these product didn’t help. If you sell nutritional or therapy products do your home work and not just the training the company provides which is often very biased. Do some real unbiased training in that area. I still get bombarded with people who sell very expensive nutritional and supplement products they have no understanding of, saying this is safe and beneficial for everyone. This is so not true for every consumer, every single one of us are different in nutritional needs when our body is out of balance, we all have difference intolerances, allergies etc. My father suffers from hemochromatosis excess iron over load in the body, so any more iron in his body can be very dangerous, I have various types of allergies and enzyme issues which means various types of herbs can cause all sorts of complications including internal bleeding; changes from low to extreme high blood pressure and with any natural stimulants such as green tea I can be jangling with tremors.
- Don’t assume a clients financial situation; I have had on more than one occasion had therapists assume I had money to waste. In-fact one high profile health practitioner who was referring me on to another person accidentally sent me the letter that was supposed to go the other practitioner, they were referring me on to. It included a note that money was not an issue and that they suggested I go for a specific treatment that would cost thousands; which was so far from the truth. I was very ill at that time and due to a problem with my NI stamps as a student was only living on income support.
- Don’t assume you know it all; Accept and recognise you like the client are still a student, we can all learn more from our clients than we often recognise. Even after fifty years later we will still be learning. I know my health scenario is not the typical situation that many of you face but like everything in life, there will always be clients who don’t fit that box or category of what you think. So I urge you to be open and listen, the therapists who listened and asked the right questions often helped me the greatest. Also don’t allow clients or students to hand over their power, I have seen this with for example spiritual teachers and even reiki master/teachers where the new client or student looks to that individual as an actual master and the therapist or teacher does nothing to correct this misplacement of roles.
- Don’t mislead be honest; Be completely honesty do not imply you are more experienced in an area than you are. Charge what your product or service is worth don’t manipulate a price because you think I client or contract can pay more. Suddenly charging more for a client simply because you think they can afford is not of equal or spiritual exchange. And don’t lie about your qualifications, you maybe surprised at how many people lie about their qualifications. I have had a few cases myself where therapists who perhaps did their Reiki level 1 or 2 with me told people I know they were also trained to reiki master/teacher level with me when this was not true. A local legend healer who is now in his 80’s went to Ayr to ensure a therapist remove from her wall, a false certificate framed on her wall stating she had trained with him, when he had never event met her. Believe me this happens more than you think, if you are training with anyone do your home work. I have came across all sorts of situations where therapists and healers were not as qualified as they implied.
- Don’t Look At What Is In It for You; It is all about the client and what is best for them, not what is best for yo. What I mean by this is no matter how bad things are in your business. If you think another therapist would be more suitable for a particular client, refer them on, we are their to do what is right for the client not what for what we will get out of it. Believe me this sort of decision will gain you tremendous respect and a lot more work and referrals at a later stage.
- Don’t Get Lazy With CPD; Invest in your learning and don’t just ever go for the most cheapest or shortest training. I am certainly not saying the most expensive training is the best either that is seriously not true. But do your home work and be honest with yourself, is this the best investment. Don’t just take the lazy or easy option, that isn’t what makes you the most effective therapist. Too many therapists are doing the cheapest, fastest usually poorest training and trying to sell them self off as experts, Clients often assume a therapist has dedicated a lot of time to their training sometimes a few years. More and more training schools are certificating people in a day in subjects that previously were taught in at least a year. Many new therapists are very naive and trying to charge the same as a therapist who has had at least 500 hours training underneath their belt when there practical training has been no more than a few days in only the basics. The shorter training means that many therapists are not fully equipped or skilled to treat or support many conditions and vulnerable clients safely and effectively.As a whole a lot of training is sadly not designed simply to produce the best therapist or coachss but what is the most cost and time effective way for the college or training school to make a profit or be sustainable.
This post may seem very negative to many of you, but sadly it is the stark reality of a small part of an industry that lacks clear, across the board standardisation.
Thankfully I have had some amazing experiences and met so many highly dedicated wonderful healers, therapists and coaches in this field that helped my experiences be a lot more balanced and in many ways the holistic field saved my life in more ways than one.
“Book I, of the Hippocratic school: “Practice two things in your dealings with disease: either help or do not harm the patient”. The exact phrase is believed to have originated with the 19th-century surgeon Thomas Inman.[“