Recipients of healing are often called healees. In following the medical model, healees are often passive, expecting healers to provide whatever is necessary for dealing with their problems.
There is a trend toward encouraging healees to take more responsibility for self-healing – among progressive healers. These caregivers model their interactions after those of CAM practitioners who empower people they treat to activate their self-healing abilities, encouraging them to be respants. (Conversely, many CAM practitioners are integrating spiritual healing with their CAM modalities. It is not uncommon to find massage or bodymind therapies combined with Reiki or Therapeutic Touch.) Within this definition of healing, treatment is viewed by many as a boost to healee energies rather than as a cure for their problems provided by the healer. Others view this respantifying process as helping people to connect with their innate healing wisdom, with their higher selves, with spiritual guidance, or directly with the Infinite Source.
While this is a growing trend, the term healer carries entrenched nuances of passivity that can hinder the shift towards healees taking charge of their lives and dealing with their problems themselves. Healers have not found an alternative to this word that feels comfortable. Consider the following alternatives.
Patients expect doctors to diagnose their problems and prescribe treatments to fix them. The very term, patient, suggests someone who patiently waits for someone else to intervene on his or her behalf.
Doctor: "What's your problem?"
Patient: "You're the doctor. You should tell me what's wrong!"
Many CAM practitioners refer to the people they treat as clients. This shapes the conceptualization of their relationship, acknowledging that people have choices in selecting therapists and that therapists are in advisory and teaching roles.
Siegel, Bernie. Love, Medicine and Miracles: Lessons Learned about Self-Healing from a Surgeon's Experience with Exceptional Patients NY: Harper & Row 1986.
Siegel, Bernie. Respants: Information, Inspiration and Expiration, International J. of Healing and Caring – On line, www.ijhc.org 2002, 2(1), 1-5.
*An expanded version of this article appears in Benor, DJ, In a Word, International J of Healing and Caring – On Line, www.ijhc.org January, 2001, 1-8.
(Continued in next column)