Ethical Considerations in Intending Wellness
by Karin Cremasco, PhD, ThD
“Thus, to me, ethics is nothing else than reverence for life.”
(Note: Please seek professional legal advice for your locality.)
Kylea Taylor writes in her book, The Ethics of Caring: Honoring the Web of Life in Our Professional Healing Relationships, “Ultimately, ethical behaviour is reverence for life demonstrated by right relationships to another,” This statement is an excellent synopsis of my understanding of ethics in energy medicine and spiritual healing. Pope and Vasquez write, “Ethics are an essential guide for the work of psychotherapy and counseling. They are a process through which we awaken, enhance, inform, expand, and improve our ability to respond effectively to those who come to us for help.”
It is my opinion that it is particularly important that we have these same standards in the fields of energy medicine and spiritual healing, which includes intuitive and integrative counseling, since they are not at this time regulated fields with licensing procedures in Canada or United States. Whilst the lack of regulation provides the degrees of freedom which are integral in these fields, it means that there are as of yet, no standards which all practitioners must adhere to for the protection of the client’s best interest. The purpose of this paper is to discuss my own values and motivations to determine a course of action for ethics in energy medicine, spiritual healing, and intuitive and integrative counseling. I mention all three because I feel that energy medicine and spiritual healing differ from intuitive and integrative counseling because they do not necessarily bring the issues to consciousness for the client. The International Society of the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine (ISSSEEM) defines energy medicine thus: “Energy Medicine includes all energetic and informational interactions resulting from self-regulation, or brought about through other energy linkages to mind and body.” Spiritual healing embraces the mission of the ordination into the International Science of Mind Church for Spiritual Healing, which consists of belief in “a Divine Power that is the Creator of the Universe and all sentient beings; belief in “a personal Soul which survives physical death; and belief that “all healing has a significant spiritual component, integrating body, mind, and spirit.” I think that intuitive and integrative counseling incorporates the concepts of energy medicine and spiritual healing and adds the component of facilitation of the client’s connection to his or her own spirituality thus receiving his or her own insights.
Nonordinary States of Consciousness
“Any good therapy involves a nonordinary state of consciousness at some time and to some degree. Therapy is about change, and profound change involves a radical shift in self-view, world-view, or spiritual understanding. Nonordinary states allow ingrained habits of thought, feeling, perception, and understanding to recede, diffuse, and break down as necessary so that people can find new understanding and reclaim disconnected parts of themselves.”
Techniques of energy medicine and spiritual healing use therapeutic induction as a means for clients to enter nonordinary states. Taylor lists other techniques for inducing nonordinary states including “breathwork, massage and bodywork, acupuncture, guided imagery, dreamwork, bioenergetic therapy, network chiropractic, meditation and prayer, hypnosis, vision quest, drumming, and energy psychology techniques.”
The aspects that I will consider in this paper are congruent with the ethics within the practice of psychotherapy and counseling, as well as some that are unique to the field of energy medicine and spiritual healing.
Ethical Behaviour for Energy Practitioners
The syllabus for a course at Holos University Graduate Seminary where I was an associate professor stated, “ethical behaviour is reverence for life demonstrated by right relationships to another.” I think ethics can also be referred to as ‘honouring’ for we are acknowledging the sacredness of our clients and their journeys. Energy work, muscle testing, and dowsing with a pendulum are keys that allow us to enter the client’s sacred space. It is an awesome honour to be allowed to walk so closely with another being. Ethics are about respect. Respect for others is an integral part of the “Buddhist concept of right relationship” and Jesus’ injunction, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” There is no situation where this is more important than when a client is in the vulnerable nonordinary state of consciousness. As practitioners, when doing any kind of energy work, we become professionals. Even when we are working with our own family members and think we are simply muscle testing, the same principles are to be followed which constitute ethical behaviour.
Informed Consent, Release of Liability, and Permission
It is important we do energy work with our client’s informed consent and permission. As outlined by Pope and Vasquez, “the process of informed consent provides both the patient and therapist with an opportunity to make sure that they adequately understand their shared venture.” Energy practitioners and counsellors should include “informed consent” prior to offering an energy balancing session. I believe it should also include a release of liability such as the following,
Energy medicine is a vibrational system of healing, not a mechanical or
manipulative one. It does not diagnose or treat specific conditions. It
is not a substitute for medical, psychiatric, chiropractic, or
naturopathic care. Clients are urged to seek appropriate medical
attention as needed.
A concept that is unique to energy medicine and spiritual healing, as well as intuitive and integrative counseling, is permission to work given by the body’s ‘inner wisdom’ or the ‘High Self’ of the client. This is obtained through muscle testing in kinesiological modalities such as Steel’s Biocomputer Operating System (BOS) , Cremasco’s Intending Wellness, Levin’s Body Alignment Technique (BAT) ; or from the client’s High Self in intuitive and integrative counseling techniques such as Nunley’s Inner Counselor. I believe permission is needed for working with anyone (even children, our animals, or ourselves) at anytime. I teach my students to work with only what they have permission to work with, and to work only when there is permission and consent between both the client and the practitioner. In my practice, I go to my place of peace in my conscious awareness, invite my high self; my guides; and invite connection with the guides of the client to be present. Using muscle testing of the brachial muscle in the arm of the subject, a strong response gives permission to offer the balance. The concept of ‘permission’ is described by Levin,
“In tapping into the body’s innate intelligence, we access the person’s higher or super-consciousness (higher self); the aspect of self that knows exactly what is required at that moment and that at the same time scans the abilities and quality of the Facilitator. Before any balancing is done on a person, it is important to ask for permission from their higher consciousness, to ascertain whether it is appropriate to balance.”
In Intending Wellness, I ask the following questions through muscle-testing.
Permission: “May I? May I work at this time?”
“Can I? Do I have the ability to help in some way, at this time?”
“Should I? Is it in best interest that I work at this time? Is it in best interest of all involved?”
If Permission is not given:
• Client may need water. Check for dehydration by flicking skin and testing an intact muscle.
• Practitioner may be out of balance.
• Client may be triggered by practitioner, i.e. reminds them of person in their past or visa versa.
• Client and Practitioner may be out of ‘sync.’ energetically.
It is VERY important not to proceed unless permission is given! If permission is not given by the body, the appointment is to be rescheduled.
Concern for Other’s Welfare
As practitioners, we act “as a midwives to the psychospiritual, developmental process occurring in nonordinary states,” [to] permit, protect, and usher forth that which wants to happen of its own accord.” It is crucial that the client feel safe physically, and emotionally. The following are a few aspects that must be taken into account.
Confidentiality is important anytime we work as practitioner of energy medicine, even our own children. I stress in my courses that no personal information leaves the room in which it was shared. We are not even to acknowledge that we have seen or see a particular client. Moreover, we need to be mindful of name-dropping with other professionals.
Our job as a professional is to keep the client feeling safe and to watch out for his or her safety: privacy, confidentiality, how we approach the body, touching the body through the muscle testing. We are to stay in charge by not sharing our own issues. If we work with acquaintances, it is important not to wear the friend ‘hat’ but to maintain a professional demeanour. Remind client when the client is a friend or relative that the session will not come up in conversation unless client brings it up.
Emotional Reality vs. Historical Reality
“It is important that the paradigm in which we hold memory retrieval work does not limit its recognition of truth to literal and provable facts.” Clients often go in very deep places in their nonordinary state of consciousness. Impressions, images, and scenes often surface. We need to clarify that we are only working with “emotional reality, which is not necessarily limited to or the same as historical reality. It is imperative that we avoid indicating the issues which have arisen during an energy balancing session are historical.
Work Without Judgement
We are there to witness, to facilitate, to coach, to attend, to serve our clients. We need to consider what type of clientele that we would not be able to stay out of judgement with. Have the courage to say no and “make the appropriate referral,” when we feel we are not able to come from a clear, non-judgemental place as a facilitator.
Honour the Client’s Belief System
Our beliefs do not enter into the client’s process. This is not about the practitioner’s beliefs. However is important we honour our own beliefs while honouring the client’s beliefs.
Another aspect of honouring is to work with our client where he or she is at because the client may not be ready for deep, profound work. Check permission frequently. This is not about how skilled we are. We work for the client and it is up to us to meet his or her needs. The client may just be learning to trust muscle testing. It is helpful to remember, “The rose has to open on its own time before we can see its beautiful centre. For us to force it to open destroys the rose.”
“When clients put their trust in us as professionals, one of their most fundamental expectations is that we will be competent.” It is important that we only use the techniques, which we are trained to do. If we are not trained in psychology or professional counseling, it is important that we refer our client to someone who is. The practitioner needs to stand aside asking questions which allow the client to seek and receive his or her own answers. In Canada, it is against the law to “Diagnose” or “Treat” any specific condition! We are offering balancing of the body’s energy fields. We suggest the client see a Medical doctor, Chiropractor, Counselor, Naturopath etc., unless we ourselves have these credentials. I feel we should offer this work as another piece to the puzzle of wellness. There are many pieces to each person’s healing puzzle.
Energy medicine and spiritual healing is about staying out of the way or facilitating the process. We honour “the power that made the body is the power that heals the body” as was stated by B.J. Palmer, D.C. in 1906. Whatever the client’s beliefs, my experience is sacredness occurs during the healing process. It is not we alone, who are doing this work. We just provide the hands. Our job is just to TRUST and ALLOW the communication to occur so that the client’s body may do what it needs to do. We are not to try to do anything. Ego has no place in this work. We are providing the opportunity for healing. It is the client, with divine assistance, who does the healing. The practitioner provides the environment and the opportunity. The practitioner attends, witnesses, and facilitates this process with genuine caring, by interpreting what the body is communicating and offers techniques for energy balancing. The body directs how the practitioner can best serve the client.
Detach From Outcome
In my experience, detaching from outcome by the practitioner allows for the most effective work. We are not there to get results. The more we can detach from outcome, the deeper and the more profound the work. Healing is not always the same as cure. It may not be the client’s journey to get well physically but he or she can still heal.
Differences between Curing and Healing
• Eliminates the signs and symptoms of disease and may occur without healing
• May or may not be possible
• Follows a predictable path
• Death is a failure to cure
• Is empirical; uses the five senses and their extension through technology
• May occur without curing
• Is always possible
• Is always creative and unpredictable in process and outcome
• Death is an opportunity for more healing and to find the true self
• Uses many ways of knowing, including intuition.
“A therapist often has the impression that his work is going splendidly,the deeper he falls into his own shadow.”
“Emotional competence reflects therapists’ acknowledgement and respect for themselves as unique, fallible human beings. It involves self-knowledge, self-acceptance and self-monitoring. Therapists must know their own emotional strengths and weaknesses, their needs and resources, their abilities and limits for doing clinical work.” Doing our own emotional work and receiving energy work on a regular basis help us to stay grounded and to stay clear. This is our professional responsibility. In energy medicine, there is a temptation to clear away the emotional energy because it feels uncomfortable. We need to work through the emotions instead of balancing the emotions away because they are uncomfortable. Working through the emotions is to look more deeply into the emotional issues thus gaining the insights that are waiting to surface. Working through the emotions allows us to come from integrity. It allows us to be fully present with the client. The practitioner acts as a conduit for the healing energy. Therefore, it is important that the practitioner be grounded, clear, centred, and focused to attend the client’s process from a place of caring.
We as practitioners of energy medicine and spiritual healing need to create our own inner ethical Code of Conduct. Taylor writes,
“Each of us as caregivers must formulate his or her own sense of what is right relationship to a client. Only our courageous soul searching can bring consciousness to the fears, desires, and spiritual longings hidden in each of our shadows.” Ethics is one aspect that will help to bring greater credibility to the field of energy medicine and spiritual healing. This is essential in order to bring this valuable field into the everyday world to play its role in the healing of the 6.5 billion people.
“We all jointly hold a responsibility to create an environment of integrity.”
Dickerson Hall, Lou Ann. Good News for People Who Hurt: Reaching Optimum Health Through Neuro Emotional Anti-sabotage Technique. Amarillo, Texas: Agape Associates. 1999.
International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine (ISSSEEM) Website, http://www.issseem.org 2004.
In Touch Newsletter: The Therapeutic Touch Networks of Canada, 1997.
Levin, Jeff. Body Alignment Technique. Toronto: Natural Health Institute. 1994.
Pope, Kenneth S., and Melba J. T. Vasquez. Ethics in Psychotherapy and Counseling: A Practical Guide, Second Edition, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 1998.
Taylor, Kylea. The Ethics of Caring: Honoring the Web of Life in Our Professional Healing Relationships, Santa Cruz, California: Sanford Mead Publishers. 1995.
Walker, Scott. Audio Tape Introduction to Neuro Emotional Technique TM, 1999.