Physician heal thyself

An old saying, but a relevant one. In the caring profession, the health services especially, the focus tends to go outward from the practitioner to the client. Not surprising when, for many practitioners, making a difference in the lives of others is likely to be their “why”, although another option is where practitioners experience time as too a rare commodity for it to wasted on themselves.

Except that it really isn’t … a waste that is.

If we’re to believe the adage that doctors and nurses make the worst patients, does it follow that therapists make the worst clients? From my experience, whilst it can make for an unusual dynamic knowing your client has access to the same skills and knowledge as you have, it isn’t the case. If fact I would say that therapists make excellent clients – so long as they attend willingly. But they can be the worst at using those skills and knowledge on themselves, to improve their lot, to better themselves or their lives.

Why? Good question indeed. In my opening paragraph, I referred to practitioners whose “why” is helping others and who need to make a positive difference in the lives of others. When intently focussed on that purpose, you don’t give yourselves a thought, and may need a fellow professional to take you through the process.

Let me give you an example of this intense focus. I recently spoke to a client someone about an issue. After the usual discussion and interrogation, I became increasingly convinced one of the NLP techniques I’d learned during last year’s training would be helpful. Except … my client had attended the same training, so he’d not only been taught how to use it, but would have been on the receiving end of the process at least once (the basis of our training was to be both practitioner and client for each technique learned). Rather than launch straight in as I would with a client from a different background, I asked about his experience of the particular technique during training. And his answer?  His sole focus had been on learning the technique fully, so that he could best serve his clients. Yes, even when he was “the client” and could benefit from the technique, he was thinking not of himself, but of those future clients.

So, I didn’t feel too bad when I came to the realisation that – a Life Coach myself, busy building a business which will allow me to make a difference in the life of my clients each and every day – and yet, despite being a massive advocate, how much self-coaching do I do? The honest answer is that until the past few weeks – absolutely none! That’s right, I simply never thought about it – at all.

During a conversation with my doctor when she was advocating the benefits of CBT and I was trying not to say “yes, yes, I know” – light suddenly dawned. Why was I not using the wealth of tools and techniques I’ve acquired during years of training upon myself?

So, I did. And it’s been transformative, across a number of areas in my life. And whilst I feel rather silly that it’s taken this long, that success has provided a reaffirmation of my chosen path.


© Debra Carey, 2018

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