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  • What is a Healing Space?

    Healing space
    Stock image of a “healing space”

    A massage office should be a healing place, right? For that matter so should any healthcare provider’s office. Sadly, I hear all too often about healthcare spaces in which people don’t feel safe; instead they feel fear, anxiety, dread, shame, and more. But what exactly constitutes a healing space?

    Attitude is Everything

    Contrary to popular belief, decor does little to promote healing. It can give a sense of peace or relaxation, and enhance your healing experience if you have a good provider. But… There is no paint color, wall stencil, or statue that will counteract the actions of an arrogant or judgmental provider. One of the biggest reasons people tell me they don’t feel safe, or comfortable, or able to heal in some spaces is because of the attitudes of the people who are supposed to be helping them.

    A healing space needs to be free of:

    • Providers who are focused on their own goals and agenda – It does you, the client, no good when a provider is more interested in selling you supplements, extra services, or fixing parts of you that aren’t a priority for you (unless it’s necessary to meet one of your stated goals).
    • Condescension – Regardless of how many questions you have, or how basic they are, your provider should respectfully answer them for you without treating you like a 4 year old. You are the one who judges whether your provider is condescending, not them.
    • Judgement – NO judgement. Ever.
    • Shaming – There is NEVER a reason that a healthcare provider should make you feel shame. NEVER.
    • Intimidation – No form of intimidation is ever acceptable. Not even in regards to healthcare decisions. Adults are free to receive or deny medical treatment as they see fit, and a healthcare provider should never pressure you into any treatment you don’t want to receive.
    • Harassment – You should never be harassed for any reason. Not by a provider. Not by someone who works in the office. Not by someone in the waiting room. Never. End of discussion.
    • Sexual situations of any kind – Sexual jokes, innuendo, encounters, or harassment have NO place in your healthcare provider’s office.

    All of these things ramp up the body’s stress response, which impedes healing. I’ve been on the receiving end of many of these attitudes at different times over the years, and it always resulted in me finding a new provider. I believe very strongly that being a good healthcare provider is about so much more than how much knowledge one has. It’s also the way we interact with our clients.

    What healing spaces need are:

    • Providers who have a willingness and ability to listen – You can tell they’re actually listening because they’ll 1) ask questions pertaining to what you said, 2) paraphrase what you said to make sure they understand, and/or 3) will address all of your concerns in the treatment or tell you why they won’t be able to or didn’t.
    • Providers who are focused on client goals/agenda – Your provider should address your concerns, either verbally or in treatment.
    • Acceptance – This one speaks for itself, really.
    • Compassion – Ditto for this.
    • Respect – And this.
    • Empathy (not sympathy) – Although many people use these words interchangeably, there is a big difference between them. Sympathy is a feeling of pity for someone’s misfortunes, whereas empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Pity helps no one. Empathy, however, can be hugely beneficial to the healing process.

    My Healing Space Promise

    In my office everyone will receive treatment to the best of my ability regardless of:

    • How many physical complaints you have*
    • The medications and supplements you take, or don’t take*
    • Your lifestyle*
    • Your religious or spiritual beliefs, or lack thereof **
    • Your political beliefs **
    • Who you love
    • Your ethnicity
    • The color of your skin
    • The size of your body
    • The clothes you wear
    • Your healthcare choices
    • Your age
    • Your gender identity
    • Your country of origin
    • Your education level
    • Your occupation
    • The degree or nature of any disability you might have
    • Any other reason people have judged, shamed, intimidated, or harassed you in the past

    *There are some conditions in which optimum healing is not achievable without medication, lifestyle, or diet change. Be sure to follow your physician’s recommendations.

    **I will not ask yours, and request that you don’t ask mine either.