[Note: This article is part 2 of 4 in the series “4 Principles I Never Break As A Practitioner”. In this series I am discussing four of the fundamental principles I never break in running my business. A new article will be added to the site every two or three weeks. You can read the full series and you can check out all the free practitioner resources.]
photo by Taber Andrew Bain
The Hippocratic Oath (or some oath similar to it) is taken by most medical doctors in the western world. It is believed that it is based upon an oath written by the father of western medicine Hippocrates in the 5th century BCE.
I am not a doctor and I never give any medical advice, but I think there is a lot that we as practitioners can learn from the Hippocratic Oath. Here it is in the modern version (Written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University):
“I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.
I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given to me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.
I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”
One of the things I love about the tapping community is the general willingness to share. Gary Craig deserves a great deal of credit for fostering this spirit in the ways he shared Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) from the very beginning. This tradition in continued through articles, blogs, videos, and forums. I know my knowable base and skill set have grown because the great generosity of others.
I think we should all strive for a generous spirit when it comes to sharing our knowledge and experience. The first three articles in this series talk about the many ways we can share our knowledge and participate in the community.
Art and Science
There is a great deal of talk in the tapping community about the “art of delivery”. This is such an important concept. The art of delivery is all about how we interact with our clients in terms of building relationship, guiding the healing process, and teaching new concepts and skills. Client work is not some math equation in which you enter in a few pieces of data and know what the next step is.
No two clients are the same and no two issues are the same. Some clients aren’t very good at talking about what they are experiencing. They just know something isn’t right. Often time our job as practitioners is simply to provide our clients a safe place to share their struggles and help them to find vocabulary to describe what they are experiencing.
In addition to spending time learning about new techniques and how to approach different types of issues we also need to spend time developing our skills to work with and understand people. I many times my clients know the next step on their healing path and simply need the space and safety to discover what that next step is.
Being Able To Say “I don’t know.”
People come to us because we are the experts. We have skills, experience, and perspectives that our clients don’t have. Because of this we are able to help our clients down the healing path.
I love the fact that my clients are willing to trust me with the issues they are facing in their lives. Often times this can be a very humbling experience. Because of this trust I want to do everything I can to help my clients.
It can be a very scary moment when we run in to an issue that we don’t know how to help. We want to be helpful, we don’t want to let our clients down, and we don’t want to look like we aren’t capable (hurting our chances to help them again in the future).
Even with these desires it is very important that we are able to say, “I don’t know.” This does not mean that we have failed our clients. Instead we have served them by not creating a false sense of expectations of what is going to be accomplished and we are keeping them safe be doing work we are not comfortable or qualified to do.
Here are a list of phrases that every practitioner should add to their repertoire:
- I don’t know
- I don’t know, but you should check with…
- I don’t know, but I will do some research on that topic.
Some of these moments where I have admitted that I didn’t know what the best approach should be have been some of the best learning experiences for myself. I have been forced to research new ideas and to reach out to other practitioners I trust for their wisdom and expertise.
Working With People Not Issues
One of the reasons I believe that I am good as a practitioner is because of the experience I can draw on. There are a number of issues that I have worked with for years. Because of this I can often find my way to the root cause of issues faster than I could have even just one year ago. Being able to see patterns can be a very helpful tool but we can’t get so wrapped up in what we believe is going on that we miss what is truly going on.
When we work with clients we are working with a person with an issue they would like to see transformed, not working with an issue that needs to be fixed. Just because a client is describing an issue you have worked with hundreds of times before doesn’t mean it is the same issue or experience as your other clients. It is important we keep our past experiences in mind, but we can’t loose sight of whom we are working with.
Do No Harm
The modern version of the oath has replaced the phrase “do no harm” with “avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism”. Personal, I like “do no harm”.
It seems silly that we need to be reminded of something like this, but it is very easy to get very wrapped up in the work we are doing and the issues that are at hand that we forget about consequences of our work beyond this moment.
It is important that we keep our clients full life in mind when working with them, not just our time with them. We need to make sure that we are leaving them in a healthy place at the end of a session to issue they are going to be safe and healthy for the rest of day.
It does us no good to searching for painful past memories if we don’t have the time to work with them. We also need to be sure that we are not leaving our client so exhausted at the end of a session that they are not going to be able to do what they need to do the rest of the day.
When I am working with particularly emotional issues I am continually checking in with my clients to insure they not only have enough energy to continue our work, but also that they are in a place to do what they need to do for the rest of the day.
I think Hippocrates was right in his desire to insure all of those involved in healing we reminding themselves of that they are truly called to do and why they are called to do. We would also do ourselves (and our clients) a great service if we reminded ourselves of the same thing from time to time.
If you have thought our idea that should be part of a practitioners understanding of mission please add it below in the comments.
In part three if the “4 Principles Series” we will look at the most important thing to keep in mind when working with a clients: Becoming the trusted expert.
Note: Gene enjoys helping new practitioners build their practice and current practitioners grown there practice. Let Gene know if you would like to chat about how he could help your practice today. (And yes, the consultation is free)]