"Healers and Helpers, Therapists and Coaches, Be Fearless In Your Helping!" by Jamie Kahl Miller of Pandora Astrology
This morning I was having a powerful conversation with my intern Erica in our office here at Pandora Astrology. It was about how important it is for people-helpers and healers to do their work in the world unimpeded by fears of not making enough money, fears of marketing, fears of failure (and the crushing emotional weight that comes with it) and fears of success (and the fear of being a target that comes with it). And about how very hard it is to set up a client-based practice as a helper when those fears are dogging you.
Erica spoke about how she wished she’d gotten a more practical education--one that could help her make money while following her true calling, and how important it was for her as an African-American female to get educated at all; I spoke about how I wished I’d finished college and about how the self-discipline required to actually graduate college is an important life-passage, even though my education contributed little to what I actually ended up doing once I found my true calling (I am an astrologer).
It made me wonder what other people-helpers (such as therapists, coaches and healing practitioners) experience? How does one get beyond these fears and build a practice?
I feel strongly that people who help people need to find ways to get their message out into the world and they need ways to meet the people they can help. Different kinds of helpers face different obstacles. Therapists have expensive schooling, difficult exams and rigorous internships to move through, followed by a career where marketing is viewed as sleazy and unethical. How is a therapist to build a clientele? And how is a therapist to manage her own boundaries so that she can give at work and still have energy left for her own life?
Coaching has advantages, but some disadvantages too. Among coaching’s advantages are that coaches by and large work with people who are well and struggling to thrive, which is less draining than therapists’ work, which is with people who are (usually self-admittedly) ill and struggling to survive. Also, coaches can market themselves (meaning that it’s not an ethical problem), and often do, through the human potential movement. But coaching as a field of pursuit is still so new that it has to defend and promote itself as worth paying for, because most people don’t realize the power of coaching to alter their lives for the better. And because the field is rapidly becoming glutted, a beginning coach has to figure out and promote her specialty, her unique contribution and her marketing voice, all at the same time, while looking for clients and wondering if she can pay the rent.
And coaches and therapists have very much in common that we have to be on top of our lives so we can model to our clients what thriving looks like. As if we didn’t have enough to figure out!
A lot of these same problems are faced by healers of all kinds, especially in the complementary medicine field. Once a healer gets over the annoyance of what she does being called “complementary” relative to the majority medical model of healing (and this can take some time!), she then is faced with all the difficulties of building a client-based practice. “Where do I find clients? How do I let them know I’m available? How do I educate people to let them know if my modality is for them?” And so on.
These problems are faced by metaphysical or spiritual healers as well, which is where I come in as an astrologer. My field (and that of psychics, hand analyzers, intuitive practitioners of all kinds) struggles to attain some legitimacy before we can even begin to figure out how to market ourselves and build a practice. Many really fine practitioners have been lost in obscurity because they didn’t know how to have a public voice and put out a public message. It’s so sad to think of all the helpers that couldn’t figure out how to help.
And I’ll bet you just now thought of a different healing modality I didn’t even mention here, that struggles with these things too!
I think I need to do a free teleclass to discuss this further with the people-helpers I know, so together we can devise ways that helpers and healers can find themselves as people, model the beauty and power of what they do in their own lives and then market themselves effectively while also maintaining their professional integrity and their sense of being in spiritual service. Watch my blog for details as I get these teleclasses going—you might want to check them out!
Jamie Kahl Miller