The One Way to Healing

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What if there were one true way to healing — one method certain to deliver wellbeing and the resolution of whatever problems you might want to throw at it? Would you be tempted to give it a try?

The one thing to say about the one way is that there isn’t one.

If you’re looking for healing, or indeed for meaning, there are all kinds of offers out there. I would say that the first red flag when encountering any proposition in this field is the claim that it’s the one and only way, that works for one and all. My own experience leads me to the conclusion that someone who proclaims this either has led a very sheltered life within one framework, has become personally identified with one method over years of engagement, or is infatuated with it (which usually wears off after a year or two, like the initial romantic high). Another possibility is that there is some kind of self interest at play, often financial.

You can’t of course prove that your way is the only way, you have to believe it. However, in my opinion, as soon as you believe in something like this, you weaken yourself. You give your power, or your access to the power, away. Belief makes abstract, ungrounded things out of actual experiences. Speaking from your experience, others can resonate and join you. Pushing a belief on others is a different matter.

In the therapeutic and personal growth world, I find any insistence of there being a particular way, or combination of ways, to heal which is so much better than the rest to be really irritating. Sometimes it is blatant, and sometimes it’s a matter of tone. I obviously believe that some things — say, breathing — are really fundamental to healing and wellbeing. However, that doesn’t mean I insist on teaching breathing techniques to everyone as soon as they walk through my door. Everyone has a different way. The fact that through those different ways breathing patterns will probably change to the ones I might have been inclined to teach directly is neither here nor there. People are radically different and methods of healing have to align with their personalities, their natures, their ways of being.

Healing of trauma always includes a new kind of integration of memories and experiences, on all levels. But this is not to say that methods of facilitating the healing of trauma have to deal specifically with all levels. Some people may be able to integrate traumatic experiences by ‘just’ talking — by entering into a healing relationship with the therapist. Some people may be able to integrate these experiences alone in nature, entering into a healing relationship with trees and streams. Others may need a therapy which focuses on bodily experiences, and others may need a multi-modal approach.

The claim that other forms of healing are worse, or useless, because they don’t address one particular mode or level displays a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of healing itself. It happens multi-dimensionally and on all levels, but the entry point to the process can be just about anywhere. For the process to start at all there has to be a sense of safety, and for that people have to be met where they are. Those who work primarily with the intellect need to be met there; those who feel things on a visceral level, there. After a while different, less habitual approaches can work — a distant person needs a closer relationship, someone who would never dream of painting does just that. But you can’t tell in advance how the process will go. At the end of the day each healer or healing facilitator can only remain authentic to the way they have, and accept that they won’t be able to help everyone.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

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