The four stages of the complex healing journey, from realisation to transformation.
From realisation to transformation
The work that holistic and energetic therapists do in our healing rooms is profound. We join our clients on intensely emotional and transformational journeys with life-changing results. But no matter how skilled or experienced we may be as therapists, the role we play in our clients’ healing journeys is always secondary to their active involvement in his or her own healing experience.
I do not believe in calling myself (or any person in this field) a ‘healer’. As a therapist with 10 years of experience, I do not ‘heal’ my clients. I may guide a client towards a realisation or provide emotional and spiritual support. I might gently bring buried trauma to a client’s awareness, or share an emotional breakthrough. But despite the significant role I or any other therapist might play in a client’s path towards healing, it is only ever the client who is the true healer. A therapist provides the tools and direction, but it is the client who ultimately decides how to use these offerings. The truth is, every person holds the key to their own healing, and the job of a good therapist is to help their client locate the door with the keyhole.
Understanding the human healing journey
The complex human healing journey can be simplified into four main experiences or stages:
The first stage of the healing journey is when a realisation occurs. This could be a simple truth about a past event or might even be an epic breakthrough. A realisation simply means that something very important that has been buried in our psyche or energetic body is suddenly illuminated and cast into our awareness in a new light.
Once the realisation has presented itself, it requires processing. Put simply, the processing stage is when the realisation is explored from various angles, considered, pulled apart, and delved into emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Processing can be painful, difficult, emotional, and can take many years. Ultimately, it usually results in feelings of relief and acceptance, and eventually profound wisdom is derived. Mindful activities such as meditation, music, art therapy, journaling, counselling, and healing retreats can greatly help to speed up this stage.
It is during the processing stage that the third stage, or ‘integration’, can begin occurring. This is when we take the wisdom being derived from the processing stage and draw it deep within ourselves. Allowing it to sink into us on a soul level and permeate all our physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual layers – to begin rebuilding us from within. The integration stage helps us to create acceptance and release from the experience itself. But unification with the understanding and wisdom gained from the experience. It is not dissimilar to creating a flower essence; the physical bulk of the dead flower is discarded, but the pure, refined, high-vibrational essence remains. Even the most ugly and unpleasant flower can make a potent essence, just as light and wisdom can be derived from the darkest of experiences or traumas.
Finally, once we have fully integrated the wisdom, true transformation can occur. We have released ourselves from the trauma and pain, and transformed it into something positive from which we are able to grow and evolve. New belief systems are formed, old patterns are re-written, addictions are conquered, self-limitations are released and a new world of possibility that was once closed, becomes open. Essentially, a new you is birthed from your own emotional ashes. This is when we hear stories of previously broken individuals achieving extraordinary things.
So where does the therapist’s role sit within this journey?
The healing journey can be very daunting to a person mid-crisis. It can seem much like staring down a dark and overgrown forest path, fraught with danger and surprise. Some people will turn away from this threatening scene, preferring the safety of where they stand (even if it means remaining stuck in that place forever). Some will take one timid step forward at a time, second-guessing themselves at each twist and turn in the road. Others will utter a war cry to the heavens and charge blindly through the darkness. Relishing every scratch and fall with crazed bloodlust. Many clients are actually surprised that they are expected to be an active participant in their own healing journey at all; they had hoped to be carried the whole way.
But our role as therapists is quite simple: to be a supportive, committed, and encouraging travel companion to those who invite us to walk with them. We are there to comfortably hold our client’s hand on what can often be a long and scary walk; offering cool relief and clarity when the heat rises, and an outstretched hand of strength when they stumble. We provide nourishment when energy levels are depleted and act as a compass if they get a little lost or disorientated. And although our role is indeed crucial, it is the client who ultimately leads the way.
Healing is a journey
We should never assume we can ‘heal’ somebody; that is not our role to own (and actually disempowers those we are working with). Healing is only ever about ‘the journey’. And while our tools of choice may be different (whether reiki, counselling, kinesiology, crystals, or other modality), as therapists we are unified in the goal of providing maximum support, enlightenment, strength, courage, understanding, and acceptance on our clients’ healing paths. Only by holding this role sacred can we truly empower each and every person who walks through our door. Enabling him or her to navigate their own unique healing journey until their final, breathtaking transformation.
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