Not Fixing

Since the inception of my healing arts practice, I have known that my role is not to “fix” my clients. Very early on in my practice, though, I felt I had to prove myself by trying to meet my clients needs, even if that meant that I played the dramatic role of “The Fixer,” complete with the occasional nervous “sure, I can help with that” and “yes, I’ll try to ease your pain” even when I felt uncomfortable saying so. I wanted to exude confidence, after all.  My new role as a massage therapist felt fragile and I wanted to prove myself as knowledgeable, capable, and, well, professional.

But deep inside I knew that massage therapy or Reiki wasn’t being done to my clients; they weren’t passive agents as I cured them. At least I didn’t want the therapist-client relationship to look and feel like that. My clients and I were (and are) in a partnership of wholeness and wellness, and ultimately, I have come to learn, I am not responsible for their healing. They are.

Which brings me to my main intention for this post: As a healing practitioner I don’t fix my clients. The main reason: they aren’t broken. The second main reason: I can’t fix anyone. Fixing implies taking what is “not right” and making it “right” again. The question, from my perspective, becomes, what is “right”?  The answer: What is for the highest healing good for my client. Do I know what that is? No. Do they? Yes, they are the only ones who know.

According to Janet F. Quinn, a nurse practitioner and teacher, “the locus of healing is within the patient. Healing, no matter what the intervention, is not something that can be given or owned by the practitioner or therapist. All healing, without exception, is self-healing.”  She also believes that “when we are alienated or isolated, we are not whole; we are dis-eased. When true healing occurs, relationship is reestablished.”

Healing, then, is about wholeness. Healing, as I have come to understand, does not necessarily mean freedom from pain, suffering, or even death. In 2008, my father died and healed at the same time. (And a part of me died and healed as well.) As Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, death and dying expert, once wrote, “Healing does not necessarily mean to become physically well or to be able to get up and walk around again. Rather, it means achieving a balance between the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual dimensions.”

So if healing is only seen as getting from one’s conception of point A to point B — and this line involves “fixing” a “problem” — then think of all that is missing in the spectrum of life that may actually be part of the healing process that goes unnoticed.

As I continue on my journey as a healer who doesn’t “fix” anyone, I embrace the words of Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors of the anthology Healers on Healing: “The role of the healer is to facilitate an individual’s own self-healing capacities, self-awareness, self-love, and self-expression.”  I am here to empower and enable healing in others in the ways in which they see and know is best for them. I am here to be the midwife, the guide, the assistant, the witness, and the open, listening presence.

My thirty-cents: Say goodbye to the wrench and screw driver approach to your healing. You don’t need fixing. You have all that you need inside you for your healing to take place.

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About Courtney Putnam

I first came to healing work through art and writing. Creating collage art and poetry in particular allowed me to deeply understand the benefit of self-expression in the healing process. But, I also began to see the benefit of bodywork (manual work in the form of massage and energywork in the form of Reiki) as keys to unlocking the emotional stresses we hold in our bodies. I became a Reiki practitioner in 2002, received an MFA in Creative Writing in 2003, received my massage license in the spring of 2006, and became a Reiki Master in 2010. In my practice I bring together these three areas -- the body, the mind, and the spirit (or energy body) -- so others may experience profound and positive change in their lives.
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