Doing the right thing
EHI has a code of ethics for its practitioners, called the Guidelines for Intentional Practice. There’s a reason for this. The energy healing field is currently without a nationally recognized regulating body with a uniform code of ethics. Sadly, the energy healing field is riddled with lots of practices that are possibly well-intentioned, yet ill-advised at best, and irresponsible at worst.
EHI Instructors occasionally get pushback from practitioners on the Guideline that prohibits treating family and friends. We understand. And we hold firmly to the guideline anyway. When we talk it through with practitioners, they usually get it, even though they may be disappointed.
It’s a matter of ethics & hats:
Therapists, medical professionals and other clinical practitioners are discouraged from working on friends and family members in their codes of ethics. Why?
- There’s an unfair burden placed on the clinical care provider if they’re also working when they’re home, solving problems that they’d be paid to resolve in their professional practice.
- There’s a burden of responsibility that can be difficult to navigate if the clinical provider offers advice, treatment, counsel, medicine that is ineffective, or makes a situation worse!
- There’s a burden of discomfort, and perhaps a cause for resentment if the family member or friend asks for advice, treatment, counsel or medicine and then does not follow through.
What’s love got to do with it?
Practitioners have feelings. When you love someone, it’s difficult to remain objective or neutral, to accurately diagnose, treat or professionally care for a beloved family member or friend. And truth be told, it’s not your role! If you’re a wife, mother, husband, sister or uncle, that’s your role!
Do you want to tell someone you love that their situation is irreversible or cannot be treated effectively without an invasive or costly intervention? Or would you rather be there to support them as they navigate decisions, seek alternatives, make difficult choices? A head can only wear one hat at a time for a reason! Your familial hat, your friend hat is the best one to wear with the people you love.
Do you have any idea how difficult it can be for a practitioner who makes the mistake of wearing their professional hate with a struggling loved one? It’s incredibly difficult to avoid having their personal agenda for that person infiltrate their professional judgment. I’ll share an example that’s been reverberating in my head for a couple of weeks now.
It’s a dog’s life
One Sunday morning, as I gradually woke up for the day, I heard my dog, Lobo, fall down our staircase. My partner was already up and checked on him, then told me I should come down to see what was happening.
Lobo’s gait was off, he was stumbling, and sitting awkwardly. Within an hour, we were in a friend’s car, being driven to an emergency vet hospital. He was admitted to the hospital with symptoms worsening by the minute.
Lobo received excellent care. As a dog-mom of many years, I know when to advocate and push, and I know when to back off and let the experts lead. I did both in appropriate ways throughout his hospital stay.
After a week, he was discharged and came home. He has a path to recovery, and some work to do to regain his neurological functioning and his physical stamina.
We live 5 stories above the ground; taking a stumbling dog outside was not recommended. We used pee pads, and came up with the idea to put some potting dirt on our terrace so he could have a place outside to do his…larger deposits. But Lobo’s well-trained, and he didn’t want to go on the patio. He’s very clear about where his business gets done.
One afternoon, I was out for a few hours and Lobo needed to relieve himself. He was repeatedly helped out to the patio, but he’d resist and refuse, eventually being helped back to his bed. This cycle was repeated multiple times, with increasing levels of anxiety and agitation for both Lobo and my partner.
Eventually, my partner decided that it would be easier to assist him to go outside rather than risk him hurting himself upstairs with his frantic pursuit of the street. Lobo was both physically and emotionally relieved! I came home a short while later to a placid dog, sleeping quietly on his bed.
You may be right
When my partner shared his decision, I started to feel angry, and scared. My precious dog! He should not have gone out! The vet recommended he be forced to live with his anxiety because he’d eventually go on the patio. What if he’d gotten hurt? What if it was too much for him?
But then, I paused. I recognized that my partner had a tiny bit more perspective and neutrality than I did. Lobo is my dog, my partner is definitely part of our pack, but Lobo is mine.
My agenda for him, my deepest desire and need for him is to heal, to be well again, to minimize risks and to maximize healing. In the pause, I could briefly step outside my role, and see that my partner was right to take the dog outside. His clarity, insights and choices were appropriate and responsible, and made from a far more neutral and clinical place than I could have!
Do you see the conundrum? As a dog-mom, I’m invested deeply and want everything to work out perfectly for my beautiful boy. As a practitioner, a choice needs to be made that is most appropriate based on a neutral assessment of the needs of the client. It’s impossible to smush those two things together!
Because I told you so!
That’s why. It’s impossible to set a clean, neutral agenda for someone you love. Standing in the role of ‘healer’ and mom, ‘healer’ and husband, sibling, uncle, eliminates the possibility of a clean, neutral agenda. It muddies the relationship, upends appropriate roles, and creates the possibility of friction that wouldn’t otherwise exist.
When Reiki and other energy healing programs encourage their devotees to work for free, to send distance healing without permission, to work on friends and family, it advocates overstepping appropriate, professional boundaries. These offerings do an enormous disservice to those who work professionally in the field, and to people who are seeking treatment.
Do lawyers work for free? Or doctors? Or baristas? Or coaches? Therapists? Nurses?
Why should an energy healer do so?
When distance healing is sent without permission, does that sit well with you? Do you want energy headed your way without your express permission or knowledge? How about an aspirin or anti-depressant slipped into your food? I mean, we’re just trying to help! No. Not ok.
I’m off my soapbox
…But I Hope You’ll Hop On Yours! We can do better. We have to do better. It’s essential to uplevel the energy healing field so it can continue to gain respect and placement as a mainstream modality. I hope you’ll join me in advocating for professional, ethical standards of practice, either as a recipient of energy healing services, or as a practitioner who offers this modality in your practice. And do watch how you wear your hats!