(originally posted on 12 October 2018, from my previous blog)
At least 3 or 4 times a month, I’m asked to evaluate the skill level and effectiveness of other healers, shamans, and alternative practitioners. As our nation begins to accept more magical & spiritual forms of healing, the general public needs a way to evaluate the practitioners they work with.
I maintain the hope that many of us do this work for our communities in order to help others with a high level of professionalism and ethics. But, just as there are predatory & manipulative persons in every occupation, the healing community also has its predators, manipulators, thieves, sexual offenders, untrained practitioners, and other types of disingenuous folks.
Many clients seek out healers that are complete strangers to them. Alternative healing communities function on reputation, but it can be difficult to know a healer’s reputation without testimonials and reviews. Here are a few questions that have helped me evaluate other practitioners when I am seeking out my own healing, and when referring clients to additional treatment team members:
Do they allow the client to make the choice for healing, or do they try to mandate/manipulate/”trick” them into services?
- This directly addresses the healer’s ability to educate the client, but not force the client, into services. Clients must be ready, willing, and able to change, and if a practitioner attempts to force any of those three areas in order to “get a booking” the healing won’t work.
- Ethical & fully informed consent for treatment should be the MANDATORY standard of their practice.
What is their training, how long, and with whom?
- There is a lot of confusion regarding what is cultural appropriation & what is cultural exchange. A healer working outside of their ancestral culture should be able to speak to the training they have received in that culture, and refer back to their teachers (similar to how citations work within an academic paper). Many of those trained in technique-heavy programs are missing the cultural context in which the magical technology originated, and so their effectiveness will not be the same. This is especially true of shamanic healing, which is based on relationships with Spirits, not just techniques from different cultures. Depending on the type of healing modality, training in a wide variety of mediums is best, but books and online lectures do not replace the direct supervision of a human teacher.
- Within the United States, many folks begin training and working in the field of alternative healing practices to lend support to their families and friends as a part-time job, or a career change later in life. Those who have attended schooling & worked in fields unrelated to health & human services will have a greater difficulty transitioning to this type of work. It is not impossible, but working for humans, animals, and the spiritual community involves additional training beyond what most shamanic schools present.
What greater spiritual work are they doing for the Community and/or World at large?
- It’s 2018 (now 2021), and at least within the United States, there are HUGE SHIFTS happening at the micro and macro level of the populace. Many spiritual healers have discovered the trend of being Called to more advanced work on behalf of the planet (climate change, politics, healing the trauma of the world, replanting ayahuasca vines that have been overfarmed due to drug-seeking behaviors, etc). This Work is almost always unpaid and can possibly be the greatest work of a shaman’s life.
- If the healer you are researching doesn’t work for the Spirits in this way, then they either haven’t reached that point in their training, or they are only interested in the monetary value of their work. This can lead to the dreaded cult of personality/guru syndrome that affects most unethical/manipulative persons within the healing communities.
All of us are called to this Work in different ways, and are in different places in our training. The world is shifting, and more healers are discovering their magics. Hopefully, these questions will help you to evaluate your practitioners just as carefully as you evaluate your doctors, therapists, and dentists.
Good luck, and stay safe,