Can you imagine meeting a client or patient where you as the health practitioner are completely present for this person with no internal distractions, such as tiredness, anxieties, indifference or antipathies that get in the way, -where your powers of self awareness, empathy and compassion are so evident to the client that she feels totally safe and held and opens up in trust and deep sharing; where you through your own self empowerment can enable the patient to recognize the source of her blocks and restrictions and to help her act decisively to manage or transform her disposition for illness; where this giving and receiving from both sides creates a heightened awareness and intuitive space where higher insights for diagnosis and therapy flow naturally and dynamically and where both practitioner and patient are vitalised and inspired by the powerful inflow of positive and abundant energy.
Can you imagine yourself as a patient or client in consultation with a health practitioner who is so conscious and present for you and creates such a safe and open space that it is easy to be open and trusting; where you are shown the skill of looking objectively at your self, as if you were observing an outside phenomenon; where you learn in this objective way to access hidden regions of the body, mind, soul and spirit, thereby to gain insight into the deeper causes of your physical, social or emotional discomforts and to discover powerful resources to manage or overcome these dysfunctions; where you experience a heightened awareness together with your practitioner enabling a conscious partnership to evolve and create new possibilities, challenges and opportunities for your transformation and healing.
You may say that this is all too idealistic and theoretical and can never be attained. The fact is that this is a form of medicine and therapy being practised in different parts of the world, and one that I have been fortunate to be practising as an integrative medical doctor for the past 12 years. I have chosen to call this emerging form of integrative medicine Participatory Medicine, participatory in the sense that practitioner, patient or client and the therapeutic partnership itself are engaged actively and dynamically in a participatory process that enhances significantly diagnostic and therapeutic outcomes. It is also a methodology that can be acquired by all practitioners engaged in healing activities as well as by every person struggling with the learning curves of life, through healthy growth or ill-health of any kind. These skills can be learnt easily through interactive workshops and through application in the personal or professional arena, and are currently being taught both to professionals and lay person in various countries including Cape Town.
Participatory medicine for me has evolved out of a number of rich sources that I have been priveleged to learn about and train myself in over the forty years I have been involved in integrative medicine. In my apprentice years in Switzerland and Germany I was fortunate to meet and study with some of the doctors and pupils who worked with Rudolf Steiner. This gave me deep insight into Steiner’s life work and especially his integrative medical insights and methodologies. Goetheanistic phenomenological science trained me to observe nature in a unique way and to realize that every observation we make outside is an expression of inner phenomena that we experience inside. The expressive arts – architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry, dance and eurythmy, – became creative sources for this emerging form of medicine. And then an intensive training in Psychophonetic Counselling developed by Yehuda Tagar provided the tool set and the therapeutic techniques to start counseling patients and to bringing the sum total of my life experience all together in a form which I am presenting now as Participatory Medicine.
Participatory medicine offers a new and revolutionary approach to medicine, public health and healing practice. Whoever can imagine the kind of consultative encounter described above will probably need no convincing of this statement.
Essential elements of this new approach to medicine and healing include the following:
•First and foremost it is based on normal human experience, – tapping into the four gateways of experiencing life, through cognitive thinking and recalling / sensory activities with special focus on body awareness / emotive feeling awareness and volitional expressive experience with special focus on body expression through gesture, speech, sound, dance as well as other artistic expression. I can think about my headache, recall it and describe it; then I can sense the actual pain in my head; I can then discern the feelings of anxiety or emotional discomfort it causes me; finally I can use my hands and then my whole body to shape or gesture the internal experience, creating thereby a visible picture of the hidden and personal experience of the headache
•One learns to ‘step’ out of the specific ‘positions’ one finds oneself in, for instance the person suffering the headache and to observe oneself from the outside. This is a unique, objective, free zone that allow for relatively unbiased clear perception of the phenomena of self. It is the most uncluttered aspect of oneself, intent only on seeing the truth, the position of the objective scientist, yet one who carries compassion for what he sees, having been there himself.
Having created the gesture of the headache with my hands as a vice squeezing the head, I physically step out of this position and observe from outside the after image of the gesture. I ‘see’ vividly myself under pressure and realize my headache has to do with the work pressure I am experiencing in my job. I can even ‘hear’ the sounds of anquish, the dissonance that vibrates through my body. I immediately know what needs to be done.
•New faculties of awareness develop in the process: imaginative, auditory-inspirative and intuitive. I learn to see things that are not materially present through the wise expressive power of the body, which open up the ability to hear the resonating energy in all material objects and then to know intuitively what will correct the inbalance
•Discovering the personality characters that either hinder or enhance health. Observing oneself in this way, one discovers the deeply embedded layers of past experience, caused by outside impressions at a time in life when one had no means of protecting oneself because the need at that time was to be open and learn about life at whatever cost. One could therefore only absorb and imitate these impressions so that even the projected anger and abuser becomes imprinted into the matrix of the psycho-somatic memory. Here we can find the healthy functional characters of mother, father, brother, sister, friend and teacher I see that the one feeling the pressure is none other than the young child who was constantly criticized, judged and badgered by his mother; I also see the mother in myself who is constantly putting pressure on the hurt child. I realize that what is needed is a helper for this child, someone who can advocate for him and stop the abusive pressure. I step into this role by imagining such a person, feeling and sensing him in my body and then actually embodying him so that I can actually become the part needed. I then dramatically intervene in the co-dependant relationship of mother and child removing her presence and supporting the child in the way I know best
A practical training in the art and science of the participatory process that takes place in a medical, therapeutic or counselling setting will be available starting Februray 2015 in the Wilderness, garden route.
It goes beyond the giving out of information and is aimed at the acquisition of human skills. This methodology called Participatory Medicine is an emerging form of Integrative Medicine where conscious participatory awareness and action leads to creative partnerships that empower both practitioner and patient to rapidly access deep insights and healing resources.
This process engages three spheres of participation that is taking place in every therapeutic interaction:
•within the health practitioner
•within the patient or client
•within the partnership that emerges between practitioner and patient
The workshops will focus on these spheres of activity, providing a skill set based on conscious human experience that open up doorways to an integrative and intuitive healing. A variety of cognitive, experiential, artistic, dramatic – expressive and participatory activities will be utilised to access hidden domains that both hinder and enhance healing potential.