Who Is a Healer, Really?

A doctor, with many years of formal education and training, may or may not be a healer. In some cases, the way a doctor practices is the reason why a veteran drops out of treatment, never to return. But a “Doc,” someone who builds the kind of deep trust veterans had in the service with their medics—that person is a healer.

A wife or a parent who recognizes and helps carry the grief of their military loved one—these are healers.

A husband who listens with love and empathy to his warrior wife—he becomes essential in bringing her all the way home.

Fellow students in classrooms who respectfully integrate veterans into their college communities—they become healers.

Even actors who turn down roles that perpetuate one-dimensional myths of veterans as either heroes or broken gear, who instead pursue roles that portray veterans as multifaceted human beings (like all of us)—they become healers.

What is a healer? It is all of us, or none of us, depending on what we understand and how this moves us to act in support of those who protect us.

A public health approach means that we all have a role in suicide prevention.  If empowered with the right insights, we can all play a role in saving lives. We can all be healers in the context of the trust and compassion we share with those around us.

Suicide prevention is about being authentically available and connected to others. Licensed psychologist and ethics expert, Dr. Ofer Zur, has a perspective I’ve found helpful in my work as a healer. In an article he wrote, he said this,

Psychologists have been inundated with unequivocal messages about the depravity of boundary crossings and dual relationships in clinical practice. From graduate courses and texts on ethics, to continuing education workshops on “Risk Management”, to attorneys’ advice columns, we have been warned never to leave the office with a client, to be very careful about gifts, never to socialize with clients, to avoid bartering and to limit physical contact to a handshake or a pat on the back… It is important that psychologists differentiate between harmful boundary violations and helpful boundary crossings….A boundary violation occurs when a therapist crosses the line of decency and integrity and misuses his/her power to exploit a client for the therapist’s own benefit. Boundary violations usually involve exploitive business or sexual relationships. Boundary violations are always unethical and are likely to be illegal. However, boundary crossing, when executed with the clients’ welfare in mind, is likely to enhance therapeutic alliance, the best predictor of therapeutic outcome.”

To me, Dr. Zur’s perspective has been a refreshing invitation to be a compassionate human first, as part of my role as a healer – to be someone that holds good boundaries but who does not use “boundaries” as an excuse for failing to exercise the full range of my humanity.

Want to Learn More?  Here is a link to where you can pick up a copy of my book WARRIOR