Behind many of our fears as practitioners may lie the concern that a patient who is not perhaps getting what he/she wants from treatment, or whose treatment is not progressing as quickly as they had hoped, may decide that they do not want to continue treatment. We must not allow this fear to dictate the course of treatment. We should always let them to leave with as little feeling of disappointment or doubts about our own performance as possible, and learn to move on quickly.
It often happens that we never know why a patient stops coming to see us. Some few tell us why they are stopping, but many others, usually the majority, simply disappear, probably because they are too embarrassed to tell us why they are stopping. And this can happen after many months or even years of being our patients. The hardest to take are those long-standing patients of ours who either decide to move to another practitioner or stop having treatment of any kind without informing us. These we may never hear of again, and, human curiosity being what it is, we would dearly like to know what is going on in their lives, but may never do so, except by chance. As I heard a very wise Tibetan master, Sogyal Rinpoche, saying: “Don’t get attached to your giving”, one of the hardest lessons we have to learn.
Sometimes we hear news of our patient indirectly through somebody else. One such occasion, which I treasure for teaching me a lot about the effect of even a few treatments, occurred recently. A new patient of mine said that he had heard of me through a good friend of his who had had treatment from me, and who had told him that this treatment “had transformed her life”. I struggled to remember who the patient was, but looking back through my notes realised that she had come to see me for precisely three treatments many years ago, and then stopped coming. Without hearing what her friend told me, I would have qualified her treatment as a failure, as I did at the time. So we never really know what effect our treatments, and perhaps more importantly our presence and approach, can have. And this episode taught me not to underestimate the power of the interaction between the patient and me, nor of the power of those first few treatments in which the elements are addressed so directly and so vigorously for the first time, particularly through the initial cleansing treatment (AE drain) we give. Sometimes for some patients all that is needed is to point the elements in the right direction through these first simple, but pure, treatments, and leave the elements to continue on the path towards restored health through their own efforts as it were. Other patients may need our support for longer.
It is of course obvious that the nature of the relationship we enter into with our patients is crucial to the success of treatment. Of course a patient will have personal preferences which may have nothing to do with a practitioner’s competence, and we have to accept that. A patient must feel at ease with their practitioner, as one of the essential prerequisites for successful treatment. If this relationship is for some reason not right, patients will be reluctant to continue treatment, and the treatment itself will rest on very shaky foundations. The kind of uncertainties an uneasy relationship brings with it can lead the elements to hide or distort themselves, as though a screen has been thrown up between us, and the hesitancies which such unease can create in us as practitioners can confuse our perceptions of how to interpret what we see. We may ourselves be anxious and overlook anxiety in our patient, for example, or irritated and interpret through our own angry eyes our patient’s emotion as anger.
The lines of communication flowing between the patient and us and between us and the patient need to be as uncluttered as possible, so that the messages passing along these lines are interpreted according to their true meanings rather than being distorted by kinks somewhere along the way.