Achieving health may require a diet of humble pie


I just love the title of my colleague in Ohio, Steven Salt’s blog!  Enjoy the following  post written on a topic presented at the Third Annual Medical-Spirituality Conference in Dayton, Ohio:

Skill, knowledge, and experience are a must for any successful health care provider.  Good bedside manners, compassion, as well proficiency in communication are also valued commodities in doctors, nurses, and health practitioners.

Now consider humility.  Not usually high on the list of admired professional attributes, humility is vital to healing according to Doug Smith, a consultant with over 25 years of experience as a counselor, therapist, and health care administrator.  He is the author of several books, including Spiritual Healing.  Speaking before a group of health professionals at the Third Annual Medical-Spirituality Conference in Dayton last week, Smith thinks a little humility training is in order.

“You cannot build anything on a false front,” according to Smith, a humble man himself.   Authenticity, empathy, and unconditional positive regard are the groundwork for accomplishing any long term healing success.  

What gets in the way of healing, according to Smith, are relationships of dominance. An imbalance of egos is problematic.  Patients’ concerns are often overlooked and their desires unheard.  Because doctors, nurses, and clergy are viewed as ‘experts’, the patient’s ego is devalued.  Even the uniforms worn by these specialists can often convey, “I’m important…you’re not.”  

The “dominance motif” inhibits the healing influence in patients.  At a time when patient-directed health care is emerging as a valid approach to healthy outcomes, the hierarchal model needs some fine tuning.

“Unconditional love”, according to Smith, is the “glue that holds your world together.”  He knows.  He has experienced more trials than most of us.  During his presentation he held a gentle smile, even when discussing life and death issues, his own and those in his practice.  I asked him about that smile and how long he has worn it.  He wasn’t sure how long it’s been there, but did say he has noticed that it has grown over time.

Smith spent some time differentiating between the medical method of evaluating patients and the spiritual approach.  The former commences with a problem evaluation.  The latter begins with a strength assessment.   Smith believes it is much more valuable to know your strengths.  He says, “Problem assessment creates more problems.”

Smith sees value in both the medical and spiritual approach to healing.  He did share his own appraisal of how they differ.  The medical model says to the patient, “You need fixing.”  The spiritual model says, “You have potential!”

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