Before we get started, it's important that you understand my approach to healing, as well as to training and education overall. As a healthcare practitioner, I've become accustomed to the mantra, "data, data, data." In other words, it's important to read, understand, evaluate and incorporate objectively-based, scientifically-sound research in one's area of expertise as a service provider. I feel a very strong obligation to be well informed, ethical, caring, and professional; to clearly communicate my scope-of-practice; and to appropriately set and support reasonable goals and expectations.
On the other hand, there's the issue that Integrative Therapies are inherently intuitive in nature. At some point in our training, beyond the structure and technique of our respective modalities, we practitioners find our groove, balancing technical skill with instinctive practice and experience, riding a wave that flows in two worlds simultaneously: objective and subjective, statistical trends and soft-signs, concrete and non-descript, left brain and right brain. As such, we learn to let go of any personal expectations and just be present to the healing and growth process without pre-defining what that might look like.
In terms of communication skills, speech and language production and comprehension (i.e., how we sound and how well we understand speech and language) is somewhat flexible in nature. So much of communication clarity depends upon not only measurable differences in sound production, use of idioms or understanding cultural verbal distinctions, but the degree to which these differences occur, and for how long one can "sustain the band," so to speak...in other words, is the speaker able to maintain vigilance and incorporate these changes, whether speech-sound production, the "musical" or suprasegmental aspect of language, or insight regarding non-verbal communication smoothly and for the long-haul?
From the perspective of a healthcare provider, these are tough pills to swallow (no pun intended). Measurable, physical outcomes are often required in Western medicine, since what we're really most invested in is the bottom line: either you're "cured" or you're not. In communications training, either you're "understood" or you're not. But are you "healed?" And why does it matter?
What's a person to think?
The truth is, we practitioners and trainers don't wield nearly that much power: how you heal, maintain wellness, express your thoughts and ideas clearly or find peace and balance in the world is completely up to you. You may not choose the events that happen in your life, but you DO get to choose how to respond to these events...you control the thoughts, and you control your reactions and experiential perceptions.
From a medical perspective, this conceptual conundrum inspired my quest to understand how healthcare as a whole defines "healing," and how Integrative Medicine, also known as Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), works within that realm.
To begin with, the verb "to heal"comes from the Middle English word "hele," which translates as "to make whole." In my research, I found a terrific study published in 2005 by Dr. Thomas Egnew in which he surveyed doctors, nurses, psychologists, counselors, therapists and social workers (among others) to create an operational definition of healing. Common to all of the participants' responses was one key concept: healing as "the personal experience of the transcendence of suffering."
Huh. "The transcendance of suffering." Doesn't "transcendance of frustration" also fit within this model?
Having worked in Labor & Delivery, pre- and post-operative surgery, hospice, general hospital units, counseling centers, community wellness programs, rescue organizations and with private clients, I've literally been present to the "comings-in" and the "goings-out" from this world -- and much of the in-betweens.
As an educator and a trainer, the goal has always been for my students and clients to feel "whole" and to rise above any experiences of "less-than"-ness. From this perspective, Dr. Egnew's outcome definition has come to serve as my point of reference in working with patients, caregivers, non-American speakers of English, and those seeking to connect and communicate effectively, efficiently, and from a comfortable position expressing their truths.
What I'm trying to say is, I can't promise that anything I suggest or do or teach will make all your troubles disappear.
But what I can offer is an opportunity for you to find a more comfortable place to be with whatever situation you're experiencing right now...not to escape from the challenge, but to find peace with where you are, and provide you with the space to develop skills that allow you to move forward safely, confidently and effectively.
By doing so, YOU create a relevant, meaningful new point of reference, as well as a set of skills that change your outcomes, that support moving beyond your challenges -- be they physical, psychological, emotional, communication-based or otherwise -- and to BE more than your suffering or frustration.
© Hayley Kamis, MA, RM/T-IARP