Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Ethics of Healing

In response to my post Energy Healing Explained for Mormons, I got the following comment.

If you had cancer, would you really try to cure it with crystal waving and meditation rather than going to an oncologist? This perfect synthesis of Eastern and Western nonsense would not be noteworthy at all if it weren't promoting dangerous anti-scientific ideas that can get people killed.

This is a good question and a real concern, so I thought I would write a blog post about the ethics of healing.

This is how I used to imagine energy healers, and how I'm sure many people still do. 

Personally, I hear the fear in her statement. And I can see the perceived stupidity of crystal waving over doctors. My own mother died of cancer when I was 11, after a 5 year battle. I was terrified of getting cancer for years afterward. Terrified. For years. It's not a happy way to live. 

My answer to this questions is that I would first seek personal revelation. And unless God told me to, I would probably not see an oncologist. Not because I don't respect science. I adore science. If you know me, you know I am a scientist at heart. It was a toss up between English and Biology as my major in college. My reasons for not seeing an oncologist are personal, so I will keep them to myself. And I reserve the right to change them.  

When it comes to clients, however, there are laws and codes of ethics that I abide by. Hypnotherapists are not licensed by the state, however, I am certified by a respectable organization and I can legally practice under California Business and Professional Code 2901 which states that hypnotherapy is for the purposes of vocational and avocational self improvement only except under medical, dental, or psychological referral. 

That means if a client wants to work with me on an issue that could possibly have a medical ideology, I get a medical referral. The same goes for clients who disclose a psychological diagnosis, I get a psychological referral. This means that they bring a letter for their doctor or dentist or psychologist to sign that states that they are aware that their patient is seeking complementary services and that they are not contraindicated to any of their work. In many cases, I will talk to the doctor or psychologist on the phone and we work together as a team so that I can reinforce what they are doing, or lessen the side affects or prepare the client for surgery, etc. 

Most doctors and psychologists are aware of the many benefits of hypnotherapy and other complementary therapies and are happy to sign off. 

For those who like science, there have been MANY reputable studies done on hypnotherapy and guided imagery and the many benefits for cancer patients. UCLA, my home town school, has done some amazing studies on imagery and cancer. The medical community prefers the term imagery instead of hypnosis, because of the old stigma. In truth, the word imagery might be more accurate because the client uses the power of their imagination to imagine scenes in their mind and body that can not only reduce pain and discomfort but can shrink their tumors, change their blood counts, and much much more. (There are too many studies to pick just one to link, but if you are interested, please go to Google Scholar and type in imagery hypnosis cancer.)

If you search for studies on prayer and healing, again there are hundreds of them. But here is one
There is a lot of solid science behind energy healing, scientists just sometimes use different language to explain it. They recognize that the increasing number of people seeking complementary therapies is growing exponentially. If you are interested, here is an article form the Journal of American Medical Association about these trends. 

As far as choosing to forgo medical technology altogether--that is a personal choice and I haven't had too many clients do it (they have to sign all kinds of waivers)--most chose some combination of medical and complementary therapy.
It's not an either or choice.
Maybe not all healing practitioners abide by these same standards and ethics. I can only account for myself. Just like each person, when seeking help for a problem, whether medical or psychological or just for personal self-improvement, must also be accountable for their own choices and seek personal revelation. I don't use just one modality for healing, and I don't rule out medical care when I am inspired to use it. Doctors are some of my good friends. Some of them are my clients.

As a family member or observer, though, I know how difficult it can be to trust in someone else's faith. I had a friend who's mother had a kind of illness that she had to take medication for--in order to stay alive--for the rest of her life. One day her mother said that she felt like she needed to stop taking her meds--that it felt right to her. My friend was struggling with her mother's decision. I even raised an eyebrow about it, knowing what I know about the disease. I watched her struggle to have faith in her mother's faith, and I saw her grow to appreciate agency in a different way. 

When my own mother was in her 5th year of her battle with cancer and found it in her brain, she decided not to go through any more medical treatment. I knew this meant she would die, and I also struggled to have faith in her faith. 

In the end my mother's friend lived, and my mother died. But all was as it should be. I have faith in that. 

As far as crystal waving goes, I am not a crystal or healer, but I do know that every plain of existence has God-given power to heal if harnessed and used properly. That includes, the rocks, the plants, the animals, the energy field, the sound current, the angels, etc. I figure, if you are trying to heal something, and God tells you to keep searching and trying things, why not hit it from every angle that is available to you? 

I have one last thing to share. I got my nails done about 2 years ago with a woman who lobbies for Chinese medicine. She told me about a lunch she had just come from with the president of one of the premier hospitals in the country. I will not name it here. The hospital president told her honestly, that for about 80% of the people in their hospital--they didn't know what was wrong with them and they didn't know how to help them. (!) This is why he met with her. This is why that same hospital came looking to recruit hypnotherapists at my school. 

Maybe it is one of the signs of the times, but many people are feeling it. Something has to give.  


  1. I had skin cancer a year ago and chose to do both traditional and energy healing. For me that was the right choice. I couldn't imagine doing one without the other. But the beauty is you CAN do BOTH. :)

    Thanks Felice for sharing your balanced views.