As a practitioner and a seeker, this question of “is this therapy working” arises for me, within me, and from other people.
With the plethora of approaches, modalities, treatments, research, and health websites out there, it can be daunting as to what to do. So much info! Given too many choices, we can suffer from paralysis and choose no (new) action. Inaction is indeed an action.
The most common reason for people to look into their health and wellbeing is a catalyst. Perhaps a diagnosis of serious illness for themselves or someone they know, a death in their community, or even their own near-death experience.
It is a wakeup call.
By the time many people embark on a wellness journey, they may already be in chronic pain, deep fear, and immense stress. Time feels short and the list of choices and what to do, long or nonexistent. Many people try the mainstream allopathic route and may come to a point where they want to either complement that approach with more alternative modalities or go the alternative route.
Through recommendations, they find a Reiki Master, a Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner, a Grinberg Method provider, a BodyTalker, Bioresonance, a hypnotherapist, a past life regression therapist, NAETs, flower essences, craniosacral therapist, TRE, hands-on healer, sound healer, a shaman, tapping, Bowen, GAPS diet, meditation, yoga therapy, psychic surgery, faith healing….
Is this therapy working?
Many people spend years and large sums of money on their recovery. It feels like they are going around in circles, chasing down this specialist or that specialist, oftentimes being told different and even contradictory information. They try what worked for their friends who rave about this TCM person or that homeopath, only to wonder why it’s doing nothing for them. More frustration.
This question – “is this therapy working” – is valid and understandable. Will we find the answer? Can we finally live our life?
This question – “is this therapy working” – is both simple and complicated.
The measure for an answer may be pain-then-no-pain, no-sleep-then-sleep, regular bouts of bronchitis to fewer and shorter ones, or some other obvious change.
Changes are of course not always immediate or so obvious. More often than not, one area of focus opens up to others areas needing our attention. Sometimes the symptoms get worse before they get better. Other times, other conditions improve even though they aren’t even what’s troubling in the first place. A little like a domino effect or a shimmering web.
In the case of pain or sleep – was it dealt with as a symptom or as a message of an underlying imbalance. Has the treatment gone deep enough to address what is really going on? Or is it another case of chasing symptoms as they shift around in the body. Is it a reductionist or a holistic approach? Our over-reliance on a mechanistic framework is showing its cracks, and has been questioned for many years.
Doing one thing, like eliminating offending foods, detoxing, exercising, releasing cords, activating DNA, meditating, genetic testing, and so on, is not enough. While each provides more information and can contribute to greater wellbeing, it is not enough if we do not get underneath it all, if we do not include our consciousness.
..the existence of hierarchically organized systems that, at each level of complexity, possess properties that cannot be fully understood in terms of the properties exhibited by their parts in isolation from each there; at each level the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
Rupert Sheldrake, Morphic Resonance: The Nature of Formative Causation
Is There a Magic Pill?
Why does something work for one person and not another? Is it timing? Is it belief? Is it destiny? How are we blocking and sabotaging our desire for wellbeing, happiness, and success?
It could be simple, as in the case of muscle testing. For a variety of reasons such as dehydration, a person may not give accurate muscle testing results and a person may not elicit accurate results as the tester.
Dr Hawkins believes that when a person measure under 200 (Courage) on his Map of Consciousness muscle testing is not accurate. Below this level, a person may not have the courage to face the truth.
Healing has a lot to do with facing the truth. This is obvious when you do integration work. Sometimes the person just is not ready. And that’s okay. “It’s okay not to be okay” is a phrase you may come to hear a lot of.
There is no magic pill. Or maybe there is.
Is the magic pill detaching from all the beliefs we have? We have beliefs around illness, fear, love, creativity, success, failure, identity, life, and death. Everything, that is. Our core beliefs inform us (though mostly subconsciously) how to live life.
Is ignorance bliss? When we do not live within false and limiting constructs do we then naturally dwell in wholeness? Will we follow our instinct and intuition to guide our unfolding? Like European cuckoos following their migratory paths?
The Truth About Healing
The journey to wellness is both a disempowering and empowering process, depending like all else on our perspective. Disempowering because we can feel helpless and unworthy and harbour hopelessness. This is probably especially true for parents seeking a cure for their children’s ailments. It can be empowering because in the process we find our own truth, discover the power of discernment, reconnect with our body and revel in its wisdom, and learn that healing and love ultimately come from ourselves, from within. It is paradigm shifting.
Whatever happens, please do not step back into old belief systems and deeper into fear. Know also that practitioners do what they do because they believe in it and they have likely experienced the positive effects of what they offer. They, like everyone else, are on a journey of self-discovery and may at times stumble, project, and mirror. What they learn, they bring to their session with clients who reap the benefits.
Are These Practitioners a Fraud?
In many ways, alternative health practitioners are measured against an extra high bar, are generally less respected, and seem to have to work extra to prove themselves and their work as valid (or so people feel). To be fair, in every profession, there are unsavory persons and it is frustrating and despicable when vulnerable people are taken advantage of.
Before we indict a practitioner or a modality as ineffective or fraudulent, remember that they may not have been a good fit for us or a good fit at the time. We may be unable to recognize that it is working because it is working at an unseen level. We may also be blocking our healing. As much as we are afraid of our shadow, as Marianne Williamson pointed out, we may be more afraid of our light.
Personally I believe that there is a reason for meeting every person and having every experience that I do. There is a silver lining and a lesson. It is not always pleasant or uplifting. It is however always illuminating.
How Do I Know If a Therapy Worked?
Back to the question – is it working?
The question depends on your definition of success and what you are seeking. Are you looking for the physical pain to be gone, or at least reduced? Are you looking to feel better, less depressed? Or do you want a holistic management of an illness? Do you want to heal an old injury to live your dream and do the Iron Man? Is it to clear ancestral blocks and raise your vibrations?
The ultimate success of a therapy I believe is when you are anchored fully in your life. Where you feel confident meeting the challenges along the road, when you have rich and fulfilling relationships (with yourself and others), and when you are a positive contribution to yourself, those around you, and the environment.
We can look at how all the areas of our lives are, how we deal with our fears, how we are in our aloneness, how grounded we are, how at peace we are, how we have accepted ourselves warts and all, and so on. Only we can answer for ourselves if a therapy has worked, for us.
When we can look at what’s happened, including our therapeutic journey in equanimity, from a place of healthy vulnerability, open-heartedness, honesty, and self-love, I think we are well on the way.