Quite often we hear and perhaps talk about “healers” and going to see healers or become a healer of some kind ourselves. When it comes down to it though, the term itself can end up causing a certain degree of harm. Being a facilitator is a much more universal term that engenders a much more compassionate path.
Healing vs. Facilitating
It’s an interesting distinction, but one I think greatly impacts our entire intention and mindset around each treatment. Every time we run a course, we spend considerable time discussing the role we play within a treatment context and a client-practitioner relationship. Often in the yoga and mindfulness communities, practitioners are given the labels of ‘healer’. Whilst it’s lovely to receive such deeply felt compliments, it’s time to let that label dissolve, or at least mutate into the label of facilitator.
Why are we not healers?
We are not doing anything to the body that the body cannot inherently do for itself. For the most part, everyone reading this has no supernatural power (even if there are those out there who do). We might be enhancing certain things like blood flow and movement of interstitial fluid; we might be helping the body slow other things down, like cortisol production and heart rate; we might be disrupting tissue that has otherwise become stagnant; and we might be highlighting certain regions of tension that the body has become desensitized to. Yet, the human organism is capable of all these things on its own.
So WE as the practitioner are not an entity healing another. We are simply helping their body to heal itself. Everyone has the ability to heal themselves. And in fact there are certain Buddhist philosophies that suggest that healing bestowed upon people as a gift (presuming this ability is possible) loses all meaning, and the lessons are not truly learned.
Not only is the term facilitator more accurate for our role in treatment, it is also a much more appropriate mindset to enter into a session with.
The Possible Harm of Being a Healer
Having a label of “healer” can have associated with it particular miracles of treatment. This is not inherently a bad thing, unless we go in with an expectation to perform miracles in every treatment. On a scale that more of us encounter…if we go in with an intention of ‘fixing’, then we can end up with a far more aggressive purpose for working with this person. We become more rigid in our approach and we likely end up providing an experience that is not entirely compassionate, but one that is more outcome driven.
Facilitating is Best
If we were to come in with a mindset of facilitation then we are open to so many possibilities for providing the best possible experience. We spend more time sensing and responding to the needs of the body. We think less about ‘fixing’ and more about helping the body release its own tensions.
We also know that a huge amount of the healing happens outside of our treatment space. To state that any healing is the direct result of our presence and therefore confined to the treatment room, is incorrect (and rather self-important…). As a practitioner, our job is to remind your body of what it feels like to relax, what it feels like to move through a particular range of motion, that you were more tense than you realized, and so on – but the amount of therapy that happens in each session is the kickstarter to far greater therapy that continues outside of the treatment with things like remedial exercise suggestion and movement programs.
It’s a simple shift in language, but the impacts are profound.