As a young therapist I feared that I would choose the wrong intervention with a client and inadvertently do them harm. I took my responsibility as a helping professional seriously and still do. When I voiced my concern to my supervisor Ruth she asked me a pivotal question, “ Is your heart in the right place with your clients? Do you hold them in high esteem, treat them with respect and value their feelings?” Without hesitation, I replied, “Yes!” She went on to say as long as I truly cared, did not need anything from them emotionally and did not harbor ulterior motives, healing would happen and I would do no harm. “ Healing is about the process not perfection, Terri,” she assured me. I was relieved but still did quite a bit of hand wringing in those early years. (OK to be honest, the honor, privilege and responsibility of coaching or therapizing clients will always inspire a little preoccupation and hand wringing for me 😉
But not all healers have insight into their own behavior and how it may be impacting their clients. People come into the healing arts for all kinds of reasons. Some are unfortunately, ‘wounded healers’, looking to correct unresolved issues in their own life through their work with clients. (RED FLAG) Some are playing out wounds from their own abusive past with their clients. (RED FLAG) Some simply get greedy. (BIG FAT RED FLAG) That is why it is essential that anyone you hire to be a part of your healing team, is a total pro and treats you with respect at all times. Lately, I have heard more than a few disturbing stories from friends and clients about healers behaving inappropriately and in some cases, unethically.
I have helped clients with abuse backgrounds fire sadistic dentists, condescending doctors and trainers with bad boundaries. One client, Bob, had a long-term relationship with a chiropractor who blamed any and all lack of results on Bob’s lack of commitment to the process. He bullied Bob into staying on a very expensive monthly plan by yelling and cursing at him (like Bob’s abusive father) and then apologizing saying he only wanted Bob to live his best life which is why he was so tough on him (also mirroring the behavior of Bob’s abusive father.) These professionals are all psychological/emotional predators.
It is your job to protect yourself from anyone who may have messed up motives. Know that your unresolved and unconscious stuff, impacts the types of people you attract personally AND professionally. It is not uncommon for ‘clients’ to put their therapists/ nutritionists/ trainers/ coaches etc. on a pedestal. But it becomes dysfunctional if the professional abuses the client’s trust and the position of influence for personal gain. Many people see their healers as the ‘expert,’ therefore believing that they must know better. This is not necessarily so.
Finding the right healer can take time. So whether you are currently working with someone, looking for a new healer or just contemplating getting support, listen up.
Below I’ve compiled a list of some of my best advice to consider when working with or seeking a healing professional.
Red Flag It When…
1. The Price Isn’t Right
If you have to drain your entire savings account to work with someone, then you cannot afford it. There is nothing wrong with a practitioner asking what you can afford and trying to work something out. And nothing wrong with any price structure they decide is right for them. Most healers will do a free consultation so you can see if you are a good fit. But if you clearly state that you cannot afford it and the person continues the hard sell that is a red flag. Remember the highest price doesn’t always mean the best quality.
2. Promises are Broken
In healthy professional relationships expectations are clear. When you both know what to expect you can avoid resentment or confusion down the road. If you feel your practitioner isn’t keeping their word or holding up their end of the agreement, you must address it. You deserve the value you were promised for the money you are paying.
3. It Feels Bad & Familiar
Growth can be hard and it doesn’t always feel good. But if something feels bad AND familiar, like in the case of Bob, you have to figure out what is going on with you. Who does this person remind you of? Where have you felt like this before? Why is this dynamic familiar? Once Bob realized that he was playing out his past relationship with his father in his current relationship with his chiropractor, he was able to stop his part of the repetition and end the relationship.
And although growing pains are part of the process, progress is only possible when you feel safe and supported, even if you are being challenged. If you find yourself dreading your time with your healer, it might be time to ask yourself why. What you are trying to figure out with this person most likely has more to do with your unresolved issues and less to do with the quality of your current life or the health of your spine.
Green Light It When…
1. Your Body says YES
Spend time is stillness and silence and listen to your body for answers. Don’ let a fancy website or impressive testimonials sway you from making the choice that feels right to you. You DO know better than anyone, what is best for you. Trust yourself.
2. You’ve Shopped Around
There are so many incredible healers, and the Internet has created global access! There is no reason not to invest some time shopping around to make sure that you have found the best practitioner for you. Many of my colleagues have some sort of free or discounted consultation. Take them up on the offer, make the connection and see how you feel.
3. You’re Getting Results
The point of working with a wellness professional is to get support and results. While the results you get may not be exactly what you expected, as long as you see personal growth and feel good in the process, then chances are, you’re on the right track.
I hope this post inspires you to take a look at your professional relationships. Whether you have hired a healer you consider top notch, or one that you may have to fire after you finish reading this blog, it is very important to remember the old saying:
To Thine Own Self Be True.
While on the topics of healers, I wanted to let you know that one of my pals and transformational coaching clients, Dina Manzo is back on the reality hit Real Housewives of New Jersey. And if you didn’t already know, it might surprise you to hear that I will be making several guest expert appearances this season, at her request. Every week after the show ends Dina’s After Party begins over on Dina’s Blog at 9pm ET.
You can meet us and tweet us using #DinasAfterParty. Dina’s Dream Team of Experts will answer questions (on Twitter during the show), share insights about the episode and give away wellness goodies. My girl Lara from The Lara Touch is part of the healing crew and giving away a free gift weekly too. Get yours at www.thelaratouch.com/dina-favorite/
Who says reality TV has to be up to no good?
Join #Dina’sAfterParty and learn about healthy choices, tough decisions and how to decode your relationship to FEAR! Visit DinaManzo.com for videos, links and access to free material created just for you!
I know that many of you have worked with or are currently working with healing professionals. So I want to hear from you! In the comments below share with me the one piece of advice you think is most valuable when looking for or working with a wellness practitioner. I’d also love to hear any stories you may have about your own experiences.
I hope you have a beautiful week, full of growth and healing and as always, to take care of you!
Love Love Love
*image courtesy of Pat King