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  • Writer's pictureKit Wisdom

Co-creating the relating: finding space to humanize the health professional

Updated: Aug 18, 2022



As the patient sits down and we settle into the space, I notice my body needing to be included.


My heart is surging, my hands are hot. My cheeks prickle as my body arranges itself, slightly hunched at the shoulders.


A memory of 10 year old me at the state cross country championships appears in my mind.


I had finished second, having spent most of the race chasing something I was never going to catch.


My scrutinising brows assumed responsibility. They kept me alone, thinking it was the only way.

Something rumbles below, and I return to the room.


My belly is both firm and soft as it makes itself known.


My spine unwinds, my shoulders subside. A softening arrives, as my lungs get to work.


My heart settles and I sink into the seat. A breeze of possibility drifts into the room.


I turn towards them and we start to feel our way in.


 

The importance and power of the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient are becoming increasingly visible within our healthcare world.


Even these very words, 'therapeutic' and 'relationship', as they sit partnered with each other, may prompt discomfort within.


Our blueprint for relating comes from our parts of expertise and certainty, where disconnection from our own experiences and bodies has been routinely ingrained.


Scientific medicine teaches us to reduce those with who we work alongside.

Subsequently, the same applies to us.

We have not been afforded the necessity to reflect on our innermost, embodied, and immediate experiences. We have not been modeled this as a valuable pathway for learning and growth.


And yet, the way we are with ourselves shapes the relationship we create with the other.


To me, this is where our attention is needed and where care lives.


 

This beauty of a human had come to see me needing both resources and reparation, despite not explicitly requesting the latter.


She had multiple complex concerns in need of consideration, yet was spending sacred energy ruminating about exercises that only took into account her anatomical existence.


Her body was a machine, and her compliance was in question.

I remember noticing my deep breath in, steadying my inner rocky boat. I felt a rising heat and a whirring brain, as I planned my approach.

Listening for the story and the storyteller is a challenging skill that takes intention, effort, and practice.


It requires sitting with complexity and uncertainty, whilst gently holding a mental theoretical map.


In our fast-paced healthcare world, it then becomes essential that we slow down amongst the inevitable restraints.


This challenge is made inherently harder if we do not acknowledge our own experience amongst the difficulty.

And harder still, if we cannot meet our experience with gentle warmth and curiosity.

It requires us to tune into ourselves - a practice that is largely foreign to us practitioners schooled in the dominant disconnected healthcare field.


For re-connection with ourselves, it becomes vital for our humanity and dignity to be present in the room.


We need conditons that humanize the practitioner, as well as the patient.


 

Curiosity soon became our mutual friend.


Paying close attention, we learned more about the person she was. By welcoming the messiness, we expanded her experience of pain and deepened our shared understanding.


Themes such as weight stigma, health shaming, dependency for living arrangements, financial illiteracy, invisibility of emotional health, fear of the unknown, and living with a disability that can't be 'seen', were brought into the room.


We continued to explore the exercises she had been given, however we positioned ourselves underneath a different umbrella.


One that was beautifully wide, gracefully deep, and had two handles - one that fit her hand like a glove.


Walking towards the grey together, we discovered a new sort of ambiguity; one that held both pain and hope.
Tuning in, I noticed my brain slowing, and the heat shifting. Stepping into the uncertainty of not knowing had settled my inner tension.
Staying with curiosity brought a gentle ease to my ribcage.
Sensing a freshness in my lungs, I noticed a spreading warmth, slow in speed and gooey in texture.


 

In noticing my curiosity and the way I listened, she sensed my gentle warmth and willingness for stillness.


In a moment of quiet, she wriggled her legs and a shade of pink crept up her neck. Taking a breath, she named it out loud.


Something had shifted inside.


It was important for her to put words to her experience; to identify and make visible what was new and hopeful.


In making it real, she gave it value.


In giving it value, she structured her experience differently.


We had found ourselves co-inhabiting a place that was not the common way for a practitioner and patient to relate.

Intentionally noticing my experience and allowing it to be part of the relating meant we were seeding a different way of being.

We were cultivating new terrain, one that was ripe in possibility and made space for grace.


A place where the relationship being fostered preceded the problem solving.



 

I wonder if this brave discomfort leads us to a space between - where it can feel like everything we thought we knew about ourselves and the world is now in question.


Being, can be so much harder than Doing.


Moving out of the old paradigm and towards the new is a transition that requires trust and a pace that comes from within.


It is hard to let go of the old, and yet we cannot rush the new.
We know the old way is no longer serving us, yet we cannot jump straight to the 'growing' part without recognizing that we are marking the end of something.


 

As we move towards a place that feels right for ending, we smile into the silence.


My heart is slow, my hands are warm. My cheeks bulge as my body softens.


An experience for 40 year old me takes its gentle place in my body's memory banks.




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