With my upcoming new workshop, an Introduction to NLP, fast approaching, I’ve been thinking more about intention and truth when working with others.
As a novice therapist all those years ago, I would often feel for those people who came in through my treatment room doors searching for someone to help them.
I was full of warmth and respect, and had a strong desire to help. Whilst on my NLP training, I realised that was all about me wanting to feel needed and valuable. I’ve long since established that I don’t need to prove myself through others and feel proud and confident in myself and my work, but this process was an important step.
It helped me realise that fundamentally I was a kind person, that my values were grounded in heart felt compassion and empathy, and that these things would make me a better therapist.
I truly connect with the quote from Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly,
“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” This quote is by Pema Chödrön, from her book The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness
Compassion is about shared humanity, understanding someone’s journey through their pain.
At times we have people seek our help who have been on a path to find how to be well for over 20 years, consulting NHS physios, osteopaths, chiropractors and any other therapy that promises a fix.
When I hear the whole story, I feedback what I have heard, and then wonder at what I haven’t. Often these folks have been on such a search, undergoing treatment from therapists who believe they can use a blanket technique to fix a problem in the body without appreciating the nuances of each individual self.
As I assess, I ask patients: what makes you feel whole? What makes you feel everything is going to be ok? What makes you feel loved?
These are often tough questions, because when pain has been a constant visitor for such a long time, we develop strategies to cope, which often then become permanent crutches.
As a physio I can often help. I use the Hendrickson Method to calm the nervous system, and the precision of the soft tissue mobilisation to break the cycle of pain. But being empathetic, communicating the message that they are not alone, triggers a new belief that wellness is possible – a vital part of the healing process.
We can then start to tackle what patients need to hear. I have found that after visiting the answers to the questions above, we’re in the right position as therapists to be able to give compassionately truthful feedback, and the patient is in the right place to hear it.
It’s not always easy to tell someone they might need to start counselling, start dedicating time in their already busy lives to losing weight or practicing pilates, or joining local clubs which give their mind and body purpose. But when we’re together as equals in the healing process, it’s much easier to put them on their path to wholeness.