This draft article, which outlines the importance of getting qualified and competant help in your healing and reconnection journey, is excerpted from Lightning Path Workbook Two: Healing.

It would be nice if we could say that healing and reconnection are easy processes. It would be nice if we could simply wave a magic wand and say “abracadabra, you’re healed and connected.” But, we can’t. Healing and connecting can be tough processes and they can take a long time, especially if your childhood, adolescence and early adulthood experiences were difficult, and by that we mean violent, abusive, and neglectful. If you grew up in constant emotional, psychological, verbal, or physical assault, if as a child you experienced chronic neglect of your essential needs, if your life was chaos growing up, healing and connection will be difficult. In fact, in cases of extreme childhood/adolescent toxicity, which are far more prevalent than most of us would like to admit, the damage will be so profound, and the healing and connection might be so difficult, that to accomplish it, you’ll need to get some help.

And note, this is not a statement about your strength or weakness. It is just the way it is. Some of us have experienced so much damage that to heal and connect we’re going to need some help. We may need that help now, or we may need it later. Experience enough trauma and even the toughest among us will eventually need professional assistance. Don’t be shamed into suffering in silence. If you need help, get it.

How do you know if you’re going to need help with the healing and connecting process?

Number one, follow your gut instincts. If you’re finding things are a challenge, if you seem stuck in the same place, if you feel like you are spinning your wheels, if you are feeling anxious that you are not moving forward, or if you have this annoying subterranean itch that just won’t go away, then you may need to get yourself some help. Follow your gut intuition. If you think you need help, get help.

Number two, take an honest look at your emotional and psychological state. If you find you are permanently cycling in and out of depression, relationships, and addictions, if you find you are long-term avoidant, apathetic, and unmotivated, if you are angry, reactive, defensive, and agitated, if you are lashing out at loved ones and others all the time, then you’re probably experiencing mental or emotional disruption, and you probably need to get some help. Life should be lived in calm, serene, peaceful, and (if not blissful, then at least) purposeful contentment. If this isn’t your life, then you probably need help.

How to Choose a Competent Professional Healer

Of course, the question now is, how do you find appropriate and competent help? There are a few strategies you can use and a few things to consider. We recommend that you start with the following:

First, ask someone, especially someone who you have witnessed overcoming an obstacle or healing a problem. If you see somebody heal and transform, ask them how it happened and what kinds of supports and help they received to get to where they are today. Don’t be afraid to ask them the names of practitioners, books, support groups, etc. Word of mouth, coupled with the observance of actual healing change, is a great way to seek and find appropriate and competent help.

Just be careful about the observance part, that’s all. If somebody tells you about this awesome healer/therapist, but nothing changes in them, i.e., they haven’t resolved their issues or traumas, then don’t count on their advice, be wary. Don’t listen to their advice and don’t visit their therapist because a) their therapist probably isn’t effective, else there’d be some progress, and b) they aren’t in a position to accurately reflect or advise because they aren’t aware they are making no progress.

If you don’t know anybody personally who has been successfully assisted by a healing professional, the second thing, the next best thing, is to contact your local psychological/mental health referral agencies and ask them for their recommendations. Local agencies will keep a list of practitioners and their areas of expertise, and they will be able to guide you towards some initial assistance. If you take this route, keep in mind that their recommendations will be general recommendations. They’ll only point you in the general direction and the therapist they point you to may be appropriate, or not. Once you get to the healer/therapist you’ll need to assess for yourself whether the healer is Qualified and Competent to help you with your issues

Qualifications

Qualified healers will be healers that have a specific expertise in the area of healing for which you seek assistance. If you’re dealing with addictions, this person should have the knowledge and experience dealing with addiction. If you’re dealing with anger and hatred, then this person should have knowledge and experience dealing with psychological/emotional trauma. If you’ve been sexually assaulted, the person should have knowledge and experience with sexual violence. If you’re working with your partner on a relationship, find a good relationship partner and so on.

You get the idea.

Ensure that the help you are receiving is coming from someone who has studied and is knowledgeable in the issues you are seeking support with. You wouldn’t discuss your suicide ideations with your mechanic, unless he’s been on a successful healing path, and you shouldn’t discuss car repairs with a psychologist, unless they know something about cars. Focus and look for help in specific areas and look for healers that can help with the same.

And note, qualifications doesn’t necessarily mean those fancy letters some of us have behind our names. While formal education is important, and nothing beats a good teacher when it comes to organizing and presenting important knowledge, people don’t always need a formal education to learn a skill or be an effective healer, just so long as they are educated. Self-education, i.e., reading books, taking classes here and there, can work too, so long as they put in the time and the practice.

Competence

In addition to being qualified in the area you’re seeking help in, the therapist should also be competent. This is an important consideration. Sad to say, but not all healers (doctors, psychologists, empaths, etc.) will, for whatever reason,[1] be competent in their practice. Some will be struggling with their own emotional/psychological trauma and this will impact their ability to heal. Others may be deluding themselves about their own expertise and competence.  It’s like an addictions counselor who is addicted to shopping, or a relationship counselor who doesn’t model healthy boundaries or has been divorced three times, or a psychotherapist whose is obsessive/compulsive…

Once again, you get the idea.

In general, you want to avoid healers who have unresolved issues of their own to deal with, especially when those issues are close to the ones you are dealing with.  We point this out because it is in the nature of a healer to want to help others, but healers are no different than you. They come from the same families that you come from and grow up with toxic socialization as we all do. Consequently, they experience the same traumas as we all do. Therefore, it is not safe to assume that just because a healer has gone to school, they are recognized by a professional organization, and they have their own practice, that they are sincere, effective, and competent in their chosen field. A healer can read all the books in the world and take all the best classes from all the best universities, but their effectiveness and competence as a healer will be compromised if they haven’t fully healed themselves.

This is the unfortunate reality, i.e. that many healers are as sick, or perhaps even sicker, than you. You can’t just throw yourself out into the healing space and hope for the best. You must take responsibility and be accountable for your own healing process. This means finding healers and making sure they are qualified and competent to help you with your healing process.

Questions and Red Flags

A question that must arise at this point is how do you tell if a healer is qualified and competent? There are a few things you can look for.

Number one, look at their qualifications. Start by examining their credentials. Do they have an educational background in the healing services they offer? We noted above that education is not the only thing you should look at, but it is something you should look at. Whether we are talking physical, emotional, psychological, or spiritual, healing is a complicated thing and education helps a person understand these “things” at a deeper level.

Education is important, but it is not the only thing that qualifies a person to help with a healing issue. The second thing you should look at is experience in the area. This can be an educational experience, but also real-life experience, both positive and negative. In this regard, do not be afraid to ask the hard questions. If you’re dealing with a relationship counselor, ask them if they have a stable family. If they don’t, if they are either too young to have the necessary experience or if they’ve been divorced several times, think twice. Can you really expect a therapist who can’t maintain a stable relationship to offer you advice on your own relationship?

In addition to looking at qualifications and experience, you should also, if you can, ask your healer about their own mental/emotional health history. Have they ever been depressed? Have they ever suffered OCD? Do they have other symptoms of psychological trauma and damage? Don’t be shy about this. Ask them, what their challenges have been. Of course, if you ask this question, be prepared for defensive responses. Some therapists will be uncomfortable with questions like this. Some will get defensive and hostile. They will say you are crossing personal boundaries and not want to share with you their histories. In those cases where healers react defensively or aggressively, you might want to find another therapist. Any therapist who tries to tell you that they haven’t experienced emotional or psychological trauma, or who aggressively tries to put you down for asking, is either lying, self-delusional, or both. We’ve all got trauma to deal with and if a therapist isn’t open enough and self-aware enough to acknowledge that, it is unlikely they’ll have done any of the work necessary to understand and heal their own trauma and damage, and very unlikely they will be able to help you.[2]

Of course, in your exploration of qualifications and competence, be reasonable. You cannot expect your healer/therapist to be one hundred percent healed nor can you expect them to reveal all the gory details of their traumas and experiences to you. This is a professional relationship after all. You can, however, expect them to be honest about the reality of their past trauma, and to share with you general details about how they have dealt with, or are dealing with, the issues. If they deny, it’s a red flag that should set you on your guard.

Speaking of red flags, a third thing you should watch out for when assessing the qualification and competence of a potential therapist or healer is the presence or absence of professional emotional boundaries. Professional healers should be just that, professional. They should not act like your friend, they should not replace your mother or father emotionally, they should not “have coffee” or drink wine with you, etc. Remember this always, it is not a healer’s job to fill your emotional and psychological holes, but rather to equip you with the skills and knowledge you need in order to patch your own “holes.” Healers and therapists teach you how to meet your own needs, find your own friends, navigate your own personal relationships, and fix your own damage. Their job is to guide you through a healing process and help you find healthy individuals.

If you feel like your counselor/healer is your friend, if you feel a budding emotional attachment to them, and especially if they’ve made you worried about them, something is wrong with the therapeutic relationship. Either you are projecting unmet needs onto the relationship, hoping the therapist will meet them, or they are projecting their needs on you, hoping you will meet theirs. Either way, appropriate professional boundaries are absent. Either way, it’s a red flag. If your healer isn’t at least self-aware and educated enough to know that therapeutic relationships are not “friend” relationships or “partner” relationships or “parent” relationships, or if your healer is not powerful enough to prevent inappropriate attachments from developing, their ability to help you will be limited, and they may even cause you more long term damage.

Additional Thoughts

Hopefully this section on “getting help” has been enough to orient you not only to the importance of getting help sometimes. Hopefully, this section has also given you some information that can help you find the best type of help there is. The lesson of the unit is simple. If you need help, get it; but, be careful and attentive to the type of help you get. Not all help is competent or appropriately qualified to help you on your way. Moving forward, get help if you need it but be discerning of the type of help you get. Ask the hard question and watch for red flags just in case it is not. If you see red flags and don’t get answers to your questions, you may need to look for better help. Before closing out this section on how to get help, there are a few more things additional thoughts we would like to state.

The first additional thought is this, get this through your head, there is no shame in getting help, even when it comes to seeking help for mental health issues. Remember, your body is a physical vehicle for Consciousness, like your car is a physical vehicle for your body. If your car is not working properly, you don’t hide it in a corner and blame it for breaking down, you try and fix it yourself or you take it to someone qualified and competent who can. That’s all there is to it. It is the same with your physical unit. As you learned in LP Workbook One, your physical unit is a vehicle for your Consciousness. Now you will understand, your physical unit is a complicated piece of bio-machinery that, when broken, sometimes requires expertise and resources to fix so it can function properly. There’s as much shame in that as there is shame in taking your car to a mechanic to fix, which is to say, none. If anybody tries to shame you for your illness, addiction, or whatever, whether that person is your mom, your dad, your partner, your spouse, a friend, a priest, or whatever, avoid physical contact with them, and block them out of your awareness. If you need help fixing your physical unit, get help.

The second additional thought is, you do not need to actually connect with helping professionals to get help. Sometimes you can “help yourself” by immersing yourself in information found in self-help books, videos, workshops, support groups, etc. These days, there is no shortage of information in this regard, so we encourage you to seek out help in whatever form you can find it. Once again, we remind you, be discerning. Just because somebody has a book, a blog, or a website does not mean they are qualified to help you heal and connect. Pay attention to qualification and look for red flags.

Our third additional thought, if you do choose to seek out a personal healing experience with another healer, make sure you feel comfortable and safe with whomever professional you choose to work with. If you don’t feel comfortable or safe, either say something to the therapist or find another therapist. Saying something to the therapist is always the best course of action because a competent healer will welcome feedback, will understand that they won’t be able to “connect” and support everybody, and will appreciate the opportunity to improve their practice. Put another way, not saying something to a professional is not doing them any favours. Not providing feedback to a healer prevents a competent and qualified healer from growing their own skill and expertise. By the same token, not providing feedback to incompetent or unqualified healers also prevents their growth. Your single feedback may not jolt and incompetent healer into self-reflection and action, but if they hear it enough times, from multiple different sources, it might. Don’t be silent about things. Give feedback to your therapist/healer.

Note, the admonition to provide feedback is not a license to be ignorant to people. Don’t be mean to your healer; just be honest about your thoughts and your feelings. Do not let anger and resentment turn your feedback into emotional or psychological assault. Find a way to present feedback in a positive fashion, and with helpful intent. Feedback that hurts another person is not feedback at all. It’s an assault.

Also, keep in mind, while competent therapists will welcome feedback, incompetent and unqualified therapists may be threatened by your feedback, even when it is presented in a positive fashion and with helpful intent. If a healer reacts defensively to the feedback you provide, this is a red flag. As already noted, if you say something to the therapist and they divert and blame you, react defensively, or aggressively push you back down, find another therapist. If you are able to, if this ever or were to happen to you, we encourage you to file a formal complaint to the appropriate authority bodies that oversee your healer’s profession and professional conduct. The ethical and professional standards in these helping/healing industries will not change if these professions don’t have legitimate complaints to address.

Fourth, while it is important to seek help when you need help, it is also important that the people you seek help from are at least healthier than you. This goes for professionals and friends/family. If you are relying on help from individuals who are not grounded, informed, or healthy themselves, your healing will be compromised. People who are sick themselves will not be able to help you heal. People who have done a little work might help a little, but they will only be able to take you so far, which is fine. A person doesn’t have to be a fully ascended master healer to help others heal, but they can only lift another person up as high up “the ladder” of healing and connection as they are. So be honest with yourself and with the help you are receiving.

And note, there is no point “hoping” for the best here. There is no point pretending to feel supported if you aren’t properly supported, and there is no point desperately clinging on to therapists, family members, or friends who are themselves sick. In fact, doing that can cause more damage;[3] so, don’t do it.

Fifth, in addition to getting over shame, learning to help yourself, seeking out competent and qualified help which you are comfortable with, and learning to recognize and avoid the toxicity and assaults of family and friends, you also need to distinguish between authentic assistance and enabling. An enabler is someone who enables your bad behaviour. An enabler is someone who says “let’s go for a drink” even though they know you are struggling with addiction. An enabler is someone who says “that’s ok” when you’ve done something toxic. Enablers enable wrong thought, wrong action, and wrong environment.[4] Enablers enable sickness and disconnection even while trying (or ostensibly trying) to help. You don’t want an enabler in your life. You want people who will support your healing journey. Support doesn’t mean accepting every shitty little thing you think and do. Support means love and acceptance while at the same time challenging your wrong thoughts, wrong actions, and so on.

Moment of reflection. Carefully read the next section and when you are finished, pause, and spend some time reflecting on those enabling relationship dynamics that you consciously or unconsciously participate in. Ask yourself the questions, “how do others enable me” and “how do I enable others.”

Enabling, we have to say, is a pretty big problem, and one we can’t go into great detail here. Here we’ll just briefly explore two question and let you figure the rest out for yourself. Question one is “why do people enable us?” and question to is “why do we allow people to enable us?”

As for why people enable, they do this for the simple reason that enablers benefit from the behaviour they enable. It might be shocking, but it’s not hard to realize. Pharmaceutical companies do not benefit when they heal you, they benefit by ensuring you stay sick so you can pay them to help alleviate your symptoms. Marketers do not benefit by teaching us that consumerism is destroying the planet; they benefit by fueling our addiction. Politicians do not benefit by leading healthy and connected citizens; they benefit by having sick and disconnected masses which they can easily manipulate and control. Similarly, friends and family members enable your toxic behaviours because they benefit from the “status quo” in some way.

It is like when you are trying to quit smoking while your “friend” or sibling cajoles you with cigarettes. They do this because they benefit from your addiction. They want company with their addiction. They want a smoking buddy. They don’t want you to quit smoking because if you do, they will feel bad for still smoking, and their willpower will be tested.

Anyway, you get the idea. People enable your toxic and unhealthy behaviour because they benefit from it in some way. When you pause to reflect, identify all the enablers are in your life and ask yourself, why are they doing it.

As for why do we allow people to enable us, it’s not because there is something wrong with us in any way, it is because we are rewarded emotionally, psychologically, and perhaps even financially by the people who enable (and benefit from our) toxic behaviour. For example, we gain acceptance and inclusion[5] when we “have a drink with the boys.” We gain esteem and power[6] acceptance and inclusion when we engage in spiteful gossip. We get to play with new toys, or gulp down tasty substances, when we let the advertisers fuel our addictions. We are shunned and often attacked when we refuse to participate any longer in the “mutually beneficial” enabling schemes. It takes a lot of work, and a hard shift, to get us to the point where we are willing to push the enablers out. But, we have to do it. If we want to heal, we need to pause and reflect. We need to find good healers and we need to step out of enabling relationships.

Finally, our sixth final thought is this: always remember, friends and family are not help. Many people see friends, families, religions, and other groups of non-mental-health-professionals as a possible source of help. Our society, in fact, encourages you to find support in friends and family. On the LP we do not recommend relying on friends, families, and other non-mental-health professionals for healing and connection guidance, unless they are themselves healed and connected (or at least on an authentic path forward). We discourage this for several reasons.

  1. Many of our unhealthy attitudes, behaviors, and problems are rooted in our primary relationships. Remember intergenerational toxicity. Bad ideas we have about religion, spirituality, ourselves, etc., (what we call Wrong Thought), are rooted in what we learned in family and, to a lesser extent, our friend groups. If you are struggling, stuck, and having a hard time, it is probably partly because of ideas learned from families and reinforced by friends.
  2. Most of the toxicity and trauma in your life occurs at the hands of family and, to a lesser extent, friend groups. If you think about it, it will be your family, your parents, your brothers and sisters, your aunts and uncles, and others who are “close to you” who will have done the most harm. It is our parents who hit us the most. It is our parents who scream at us the most. It is our parents who shame us the most. It is family members and “friends” (acquaintances) who are the primary perpetrators of sexual assault.[7] It’s in families where we tolerate and are subject to the most violence. If you find this hard to believe, consider that the home is the only place where it is legal to assault a human being that is smaller in stature and weaker in strength. That is, it is normal and legal for adults to “hit” their own children, within “reasonable” limits of physical harm defined by a callous legal system. It is also still perfectly legal for parents to engage in mental and emotional torture[8] of their children. And this doesn’t even include an assessment of the psychological and emotional assault directed at us by our siblings. Families, and to a lesser extent friends, are the primary location of assault and trauma. It’s not a judgment; it is just the way it is.[9]
  3. This tendency for families to be the primary source of assault and damage leads us to the third reason why we don’t recommend you go to your family and support which is, your family knows better than anybody on the planet how to hurt you. They know your sensitivities; they know your weaknesses; they know your soft spots; they know your buttons. They know, in short, exactly what to do to badly hurt you. Do not be a fool about this. When they are sick and disconnected themselves, when they are struggling with their own emotional/psychological damage, when they are defensive and repressed, they will do it, often in subtle and hard to identify ways, but often with violent and direct emotional, verbal, psychological, or even physical assault. They often won’t do it on purpose. They won’t do it to be consciously mean to you. They will do it a) in self-defence, b) because they are unconsciously (and perhaps sometimes consciously) projecting their anger and resentment, and c) because they are sick and in desperate and in need of healing themselves. However, whether they “mean it” or not doesn’t matter. It is important to understand, no matter if someone “means it” or not, an assault is an assault and it will damage you and undermine your healing progress. Remember, an assault by an individual who knows your sensitivities, weakness, and buttons is more likely to be more damaging than an assault by a total stranger.

And that’s all we have to say. To summarize, if you need help, don’t let shame or guilt stop you. If you need help, get help, just make sure it is qualified, competent, helpful, and not enabling. We do not recommend you get help from family and friends, unless they are healthy and authentically supportive. If not, seek help exclusively from professionals, but make sure they are at least as healthy as you. Pay attention to credentials and competence, and watch for any red flags. If you cannot afford professional assistance, find it in books or online.

Speaking of finding help from books, the rest of this book, and the rest of the Lightning Path for that matter, is devoted to help you heal and connect. The rest of this book does that by running through the rest of the LP HEALING Framework. As noted, Framework not a healing methodology. It’s a guide to help you focus on those things most important in the healing process, like environment, addiction, dissembling, etc. Focus on dealing with these things builds excellent foundation for healing moving forward.

Final note, whether you on a healing journey yourself (and who isn’t really) or whether you are focussed on healing others, this is useful guide. If you’re using it yourself, use it to help you decide what to work on, what sorts of therapist to work with, etc. can share the framework with your therapist/healer if want, and if they open, but not necessary. Your therapist does not need to be aware of this framework, so long as you guide the therapy. For example, got a good therapist helping you, but not focussing enough on your toxic environment, after reading this book and realizing how important environment is, can tell your therapist this and ask them for help reducing toxicity in the environment.

If you’re a professional healer working with others, can also use this guide to guide your guidance. Help with environment, addictions, ideology, etc. helps build foundation. Etc.

Endnotes

[1] If you’re a therapist/healer you have to be aware, sometimes you need healing to. We’ve all been through trauma and we all need healing, even the healers. I (Gina) have learned as a domestic abuse and violence counsellor, that my effectiveness to help others was directly related to my own level of well-being. In my early days, my educated ego needs, and my own childhood and adolescent trauma sometimes got in the way of me being an authentic and effective healer. Counseling growth works both ways i.e., a healer will grow and heal just as their client grows and heals. That is why being a healer requires you to adhere to and model the highest standards of ethical boundaries and practices.

[2] Note to therapists and healers, especially those working with emotions and psychology, if you ever want to be fully effective and live up to your potential as healer, you need to admit to yourself any trauma you’ve experienced and damage that has been done and do something about it. And note, it doesn’t take much. Our daughter Vayda had her self-esteem destroyed by a single session with an incompetent and unqualified speech pathologist who made her feel stupid with a single word. It took over a decade to build up her self-confidence in the face of school authority, and she still struggles from time to time. The damage from that single incident was profound. And that’s just a single incident. Most of us have experienced far worse than her. If we don’t acknowledge the damage we’ve experienced, we can’t heal. If we can’t heal, we can’t be an effective healer because our own issues will always block our understanding and corrupt the guidance we give to others. We often wonder what happened to that speech pathologist to make her think what she was doing was okay.

[3] Clinging to sick people in the hope that they’ll give you the support and assistance you need is dangerous, because they can do damage. They can do damage by a) offering you bad advice, b) lashing out when you trigger them, and c) undermining you in unconscious ways to prevent you from getting ahead of them. Obviously, if you are putting yourself in situations where more damage is being done, you won’t be making progress on the healing front.

A good thing to watch for here in any of your relationships is safety. If you’re not safe, you’re not healing. If you are not safe, you could be taking on more damage. If you cannot be completely emotionally, psychologically, and physically safe, you won’t be able to heal and reconnect. Therefore, it is imperative that you seek help from authentic and connected sources who are healed and connected (or on the path to healing and connection) themselves and avoid help from those who are disconnected and sick themselves.

[4] We speak more about wrong thought, wrong action, and wrong environment in subsequent Lightning Path materials. In the next unit we look at wrong environment, for example, and how to create environments that help you heal and connect. For now, simply understand that wrong thought is thought that damages and disconnects. Wrong actions are actions that damage and disconnect. Wrong environments are environments that damage and disconnect.

[5] Inclusion and acceptance are one of our seven essential needs.

[6] Esteem and power are also one of our seven essential needs.

[7] On the primary source of sexual assault, see this awesome web page at https://www.rainn.org/statistics/perpetrators-sexual-violence.

[8] We cannot speak for you, but we (Gina and I) were tortured a lot as children growing up. The use of the word torture is an accurate description of our emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual traumas. What we learned from working through these traumas is that so much of who we are and understand of what it means to be healed is based on wrong thoughts and justifying all sorts of abuse experiences. For example, my mother used to whip me with leather belts, make me stand in the corner for hours, and withdraw affection (emotional isolation) for long periods of time.

[9] Why are families the primary source of assault and trauma? There are several reasons for that. Number one, they are private spaces, and it is easy to hurt others in private, especially when these spaces are protected by codes of silence (“what happens in the family, stays in the family.), as many family spaces are. Number two, assault is encouraged in families. “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” Number three, assault is modeled in families. Our parents did it to us and through this modeling, we learn to do it to our children. Number four, emotional trauma travels downhill. When a parent comes home after experiencing violence and trauma two work (a so-called “hard day”), they take it out on safe targets, i.e., targets that cannot defend themselves and fight back. There’s no safer target than a small and defenseless child, in a private family space, or a spouse silenced by codes that say “keep it in the family.” We learn from our parents that it’s ok to assault weak and defenseless targets and when we need the emotional outlet, we do what was done to us, often with impunity because it is in private and nobody will talk about.

 

 

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