From the Editor: Summer 2012
In a recent issue, Don Dillon, RMT, submitted a review of a book written
by well-known Vancouver physician and speaker Dr. Gabor Maté. The
review inspired me to become more familiar with Dr. Maté’s work.
July 9, 2012 By Maria DiDanieli
In a recent issue, Don Dillon, RMT, submitted a review of a book written by well-known Vancouver physician and speaker Dr. Gabor Maté. The review inspired me to become more familiar with Dr. Maté’s work.
This has involved watching videos of his lectures on YouTube. One clip particularly caught my attention. At the outset of this talk, Maté tells the audience that, when he was assigned its title and topic, he had to concede he had little or no knowledge to contribute. He goes on to explain that this lack of knowing about the subject matter was exactly what made him “jump at the chance to do the talk!”
“It was an opportunity to actually learn something,” he tells the audience.
Many professionals might shy away from trying to provide leadership in an area they feel they, themselves, know little about – especially when it involves getting up on any sort of stage. Particularly within the health-care arena, there seems to be pressure on its practitioners to surface as an omniscient class and to not risk being caught with their proverbial pants down on any subject. Better to stick to ruminating on that which your paperwork says you excel in. But Maté chose to take on the unfamiliar topic. And, rather than this resulting in a bumpy presentation, his explorative approach produced a powerful experience. Why is this?
Dr. Maté seems to realize three things: it is OK for him to concede that his knowledge has limits, and, in fact, this puts him closer to those he serves, thus making him, and the possibility for healing, more accessible; he is equipped to tackle certain issues, that is, he has the internal and external resources to turn the topic at hand into a useful journey for himself as well as those who look to him for information; and he is required, in fact obligated, to recognize and venture into new territories that may result in more effective practice, on behalf of those he has pledged an oath to serve.
The reality is that health-care providers are constantly feeling their way around new concepts and ideas – at least, they should be, if they are worth their salt (and our tax dollars). Yes, practice in an evidence-informed manner and proficiency in known principles are laudable and necessary. But health care, be it the pursuits of mainstream medical science or the journey of the spiritual dimension of illness/healing, is a learning process in which patients actually require you, the practitioner, to grow as well.
As massage therapists, even if you are confronted by challenges in unfamiliar territory, you and your profession are equipped to build an environment of excellence in providing client-focused, effective and accessible healing experiences. The intricate corridors of research and knowledge transfer; the competitive scrum for market share; the controversy-laden mind-body-spirit healing circuit; or the verbose, legalized architecture of regulatory development, to name a few areas – these may or may not have been among the original bastions of the profession’s scope, but they are not beyond your capacity to explore and provide leadership in, within our current health-care milieu.
The real impact of Dr. Maté’s talk lay in his ability to honour his audience’s humanity – its foibles, its curiosity, its ignorance and its sacred space – through allowing himself his own. Your patients, too, will embrace your commitment to them through allowing yourself room to grow, to learn – and, then, to lead.
Bien à vous,
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