A Conversation We Need to Start Having: Ethics and Energy Work
We honored to share this guest blog post by the incredibly gifted Rachel Leah Gerson of Doorway to Self. Rachel is a dear friend of mine and we've shared many conversations about the ethics of healing, energy work and how to find the right practitioner and I'm honored to share this here on GoddessCeremony!
I am proud of you. The fact that you clicked this link means that you are thinking about your wellbeing. It means that you know that no “healer” is all-powerful. It means that you are acknowledging your own power in being able to discern who you are allowing into your sacred space; into your field.
So, the question is: How do you choose which Energy Worker, Reiki Master, Life Coach, Metaphysical Practitioner, etttttt cetera to work with?
With all of the easy-to-get internet credentials (we’ll get to that in a minute), egoic personalities, and self-serving practitioners out there, how do you know which ones are the “real deal” who are here to help and heal, and which ones are the ones who are trying to feed their own egos whilst taking advantage of your wallet, your energy, your naïveté, your vulnerability?
In this article, I am going to provide you with a list of strategies in being able to identify the energy-healers from the energy-stealers.
Firstly, let’s talk some basic ethics. These are things that are not okay, under any circumstance, for a practitioner to do:
1) Tell you that they are the only one who can heal you.
This is simply not true. As human beings, we are a network. And in that network, we each have our own abilities, frequencies, experiences, and stories that we can use to hurt or heal each other. The truth is that every person you meet is helping you to know yourself and humanity a little bit more at a time- how is that not healing in and of itself? Additionally, you are capable of healing yourself. In fact, you’re the one doing the actual healing during session; the practitioner is mainly there to help guide and transform what you are releasing or shifting. And any true healer will tell you that they are working with you to help you heal yourself.
2) Tell you that they know better than you, specifically about yourself and your own well-being.
Have they lived in your body? With your thoughts? With your experiences? No. I don’t think they have. So how can they know you better than you know yourself? They can’t. And they never will- even if you don’t feel that you know yourself, at all.
3) Use their session with you to meet their own needs such as: feeding their ego, using you as a means by which to ignore their own problems, or through trying to work out their problems in your session through a process called counter transference.
This point tends to be a little bit harder to spot, and might take a few sessions to see through the mask, unless you have experience in spotting it. The ego portion is the easiest to spot. If you correct a practitioner about information that they are wrong about- whether it is public knowledge or in reference to your own energy or how you work- and they get defensive or tell you that you are wrong, it is probably time to find another practitioner. A defensive practitioner is also a key insight into the fact that the practitioner in question may not be doing their own self-work (more on that in #4), and may be attempting to ignore their own issues by focusing on their work with you, and putting themselves on a pedestal in doing so.
As far as utilising your session to work out their own problems, in the clinical mental health world, when a mental health helper tries to work their own problems out through the client, it is called counter transference. This means that the counsellor or psychologist or social worker is viewing the client as themselves and listening for the client’s answers to be able to work through their own, or they see the client as someone close to them (like their mom or their brother or their best friend etc.) and they are using that client to feel as though they are helping that other person.
Practitioners in energetic spheres do this. all. the. time. Which is sincerely disappointing, because for people who are supposed to be extremely aware of energy and how it works, they should know that transposing one person’s energy onto another person in order to work their crap out is not only extremely unhealthy, but it can be extremely dangerous to the client, as the client can walk away with another random person’s energy attached to them.
What the practitioner is doing, at that point, is called “energy cording” or “energy hooking”, where the practitioner is tying another person’s energy (perhaps even their own) to the client, which can deeply effect the client’s energy field, and is even considered to be a form of psychic abuse.
If you find yourself “feeling” like the practitioner that you have been working with is constantly energetically around, it is time to look to see if they have corded or hooked you, and if they have, it is definitely time to have a flat out conversation with them, and confront them. The problem is that there are no ethical handbooks for practitioners, and so many practitioners are not even aware that these things are unethical! By having a conversation with the practitioner, you are drawing ethics to their attention.
4) Ignore their own need for self-care and/or neglect themselves.
If the practitioner has not worked through their own issues or has not done the work to dig deep into their own traumas, triggers, faults, and preconceptions, why would they be able to help you with yours? That would be like someone claiming to be a professor of neuroscience when they never graduated elementary school, and don’t have the reading comprehension level to be able to understand any of the textbooks that they assign to their class, let alone the concepts within them.
5) Is unfamiliar with the ideas of grounding and clearing.
Many practitioners- especially new ones- are not educated about what “grounding and clearing” is, and have their heads in the clouds. This can be very dangerous, because if they are not grounding, it means that they are not being safe about being in their full bodies when working with you, and could easily be unprotected in lower density spheres. Because of such, if they are not clearing, it means that they have other peoples’ and/or entities’ energies in their fields, and could potentially be passing them onto you in session. You can learn more about these things by checking out this video.
6) Try to impose their own beliefs, religion, or ideals upon you.
It is true that there are some practitioners who are affiliated with different religious belief systems. If the practitioner does not tell you up front that those are their practises and then tries to use them within the context of your healing session without your permission, or attempts to persuade you of their effectiveness when denied permission, go find someone else.
You will be able to do your best, deepest work when you are in the hands of the energies that you have devoted yourself to, not when you are in the hands of unknown energies that you may or may not have a relationship with, that you may or may not trust, and that may or may not have a negative connotation for you. We do our best healing and have our greatest revelations when we feel safe. Not when we feel forced into positions where we are feeling unheard, uncomfortable or preached to, or where we find ourselves questioning our own beliefs and higher truth.
7) Treat you differently or subserviently due to your race, ethnicity, religion, culture, sexual orientation, physical ability, age, gender or gender identity.
Any and all practitioners should treat all of their clients with equity. This is different than treating people with equality- it means that the practitioner is acknowledging the differences that come with different multicultural identities whilst also treating their client with equal “status” as a human being. Here’s the difference: A practitioner who treats their clients equally would give the same book to someone who is blind as they would to someone with sight, which means that the blind person would not be able to read it. A practitioner who treats their clients with equity would give their client with impaired vision a book in brail or an audio book, and they would give their client with good sight the option between an audio book and a written book in their language of choice. Additionally, practitioners should be competent enough in multicultural concepts that they can begin to understand at least a few nuances across cultures that may be different from their own cultural identities so as not to mistake certain reactions or interactions.
8) Use words or concepts that you do not understand, and either treat you as though you are stupid for not knowing what they mean, or use your non-understanding of those words to instill mystery in the healing process to keep you hooked (literally, in the energetic sense!).
If the practitioner you are working with is not giving you straight answers, GET OUT!!! ASAP! They are trying to manipulate and control you through the use of elusive mysteriousness. These are the types of practitioners who are the reason that the metaphysical world has so much stigma around it, and they are extremely dangerous. These are the types of practitioners who will take advantage of you and of your energy, who will tell you that you won’t be powerful enough without them, who will tell you that you need a mentor or you won’t be “legit”, etc. I know this one inside and out, because I used to be this practitioner. I’m not proud of it, but it has helped me to help others get out of situations like this.
I just got off the phone with a friend of mine who was asking for advice about hiring a practitioner who does Akashic Records work. She was questioning me about this practitioner’s ethics, as she said that the lady used a lot of elusive esoteric descriptions when she was interviewing her. I told my friend that this could be a few different things: a) it could be someone who is generally excited about what she does, and does not know how to relate to people who do not know the vocabulary; b) it could be someone who was nervous to be interviewed, and was trying to show that she had a lot of knowledge in order to be hired; or c) she could be someone operating from ego who is trying to hook you in by showing you how much information she knows about all of these exciting, mysterious things that you could potentially experience due to her knowledge.
If it’s the last tactic, that’s when you say, “Thanks but no thanks,” and hang up the phone. There is a very simple way to find out what the practitioner’s motives are: You ask the simple question, “Excuse me, but I am not familiar with those words/concepts. Would you mind explaining them to me?”
If the practitioner gets defensive, tries to shut you down, tries to change the subject, or degrades you and treats you as if you are stupid or ignorant for not knowing, it is time to start looking for another practitioner.
9) Not explaining what they are going to do before they do it, and/or not asking your consent.
This would be like going to the gynaecologist, and not having them tell you that they’re about to put something cold and metal up on in you (or if you’re a dude reading this, it’s like the doctor not telling you he’s about to check your prostate). It is not okay. You’re not expecting it, it’s disorienting, and you are completely confused about what is happening.
If a practitioner does not tell you what their process is, it is possible that they have forgotten to, so ask! But if you ask and they give you an elusive response, they are likely either a) doing something shady; b) not entirely sure what they are doing; or c) trying to keep control over you by not divulging what it is that they are doing.
This is dumb. And the dumbest part of it is that they are not asking your consent before they do it. Technically, if a doctor does not ask for and receive your consent before sticking something in you, they can get sued. This is because it is a violation of your privacy and of your being. An energy practitioner who does not ask your consent before using any methods on you is in the wrong, and is violating your personal field.
Keeping yourself safe on an energetic level is so important, as it can effect you not only energetically, but also physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have pulled energetic crap out of people and had them tell me, “Oh my gosh! How did you do that?? That shoulder has been hurting me for the last 20 years!” I do not tell you that story to brag- just to give you an example of how energy can effect a person physically and also emotionally, because the physical pain was also causing emotional distress.
To add to this, if a practitioner tells you that you need a certain type of modality or exercise and it does not feel right to you, and they keep insisting even though you say no, that is completely unacceptable. No means NO! And if they try to manipulate you and tell you that they know better about you than you do about yourself? Well, take a look back at number 2.
10) Think that just because they have done a 3-day, $444 internet course on Reiki (or Hypnosis or Life Coaching or WHATEVER) that they are experts and can work with whomever they want to, right away.
Well, right? WRONG! Certifications are given away like candy on Halloween, nowadays. Be. Discerning.
Here’s the issue: There are hundreds of “practitioners” out there who have these 3-day certifications but have done ZERO work on themselves, and have ZERO practise with clients, and these people- while potentially having the best of intentions- are, in my opinion, the most dangerous. These are the types of practitioners who likely have not done the work on themselves, and are so fixated on “fixing” other people, that they end up not knowing what their own energy feels like and pouring their own energetic problems into their clients, especially if they are energy workers. Yea. Not fun. Not acceptable. Very dangerous.
On the other hand, what sets the practitioners who have these three-day certificates apart from those who don’t is that they have the money to get these certifications. They may be completely talentless and/or very dangerous to work with, but they have the seed money and can therefore obtain certification, anyways. So while there are several dangerous practitioners who have obtained certification by paying a couple hundred bucks, there are also several incredible practitioners who have legitimately done the work, but who do not have the funds to become “certified”, and are therefore not trusted because they do not hold a certification.
So, about certifications: When you see one listed in a practitioner’s office or on their website, do the research. Where did this certification come from? Is it “legitimate”? How much time did it take to obtain it? What type of process- inner work, essays, lesson-learning, instructional videos or articles, etc.- did they have to endure in order to earn that certification? Did they even have to earn it at all, or was it just granted to them based on their payment? Do. Your. Research. And, if they don’t have any certifications at all? Don’t write them off, right away. You can still do some research to understand their legitimacy, which you’ll find below.
Lastly on the subject of certifications, any practitioner who tells you that they’re “basically a counsellor” is NOT a counsellor, and has no business saying that they are anything close. I am currently getting my masters in counselling. I am almost done with the programme. I, still, NEVER tell my clients that I am “basically a counsellor”. Your healing practitioners- unless they have an educational background and license in such- are not accountants, primary care physicians, financial advisors, or mental health professionals, and they should NEVER be giving you advice or information as though they are. If your healing practitioner tries to diagnose you with a mental illness, tell you how you should spend your money, tell you to stop taking medications, etc., you can, at that point, report the practitioner for practising xyz without a license.
I have zero tolerance for the practitioners who my clients have told me about, who have been roaming around doing Reiki on people and claiming that they are counsellors because they listen to people’s problems on the table. Counselling involves seriously in-depth training. There is a reason it is taking me four years to get my degree, and another two year after before I can obtain my full licensure:
Untrained “counsellors” are dangerous. Chances are, too, these people are looking to put themselves in a position of power over you, to feel superior, and to mask the fact that they have not done their own work, themselves. They are looking for someone else to “fix” so that the focus does not turn on the fact that they still have to “fix” themselves.
So seriously, if someone is giving you advise that they have no credentials to support the advise with, you can call the LARA advisory for your state (Google the number) and report them for practising without a license. You will be helping lots of people, including the practitioners you’re reporting.
So: now you know the main things to start looking for when you are trying out a new practitioner, and trying to spot out whether or not they are ethical and safe to work with. But what can you do to get ahead of the game?
First, if the practitioner has a website or social media pages, check them out! Be thorough in reading their bios, their certifications (keeping in mind what is written under #9), their ethics (if they have an ethics page), the message that they are trying to convey, their methodologies and beliefs, etc. Most of the time, from those things alone, you can easily begin to get an idea of whether or not said practitioner is ethical. You can get an idea of what an ethics page looks like by checking mine out, here.
However, if you still are not sure of the person and/or they do not have much of an internet presence, either email or call the practitioner, and if you are feeling so inclined, give them a casual interview. Here are some of the questions that you can ask to ensure that the practitioner you are wanting to work with is ethical:
1.What is your training?
2. Have you done your own work on yourself? If so, what has that looked like?
3. Do you have regular grounding and clearing practises? If so, would you mind sharing with me what some of them are?
4. How do you keep yourself and your clients energetically safe in your process?
5. Why do you do what you do?
6. What are your core values, ethics, and beliefs?
7. What is your view on energetic consent?
8. Do you work with outside energies or entities that are not yours? If so, what is your relationship with them, and how do you know you can trust them?
…and anything else you think might be worth asking.
Some of these questions might flip the practitioners you are asking on their heads, but that is a good thing, because you are helping them to actualise the complete amount of work that they need to do on themselves before using their talents on others.
I truly hope that this has been helpful in educating not only those seeking practitioners, but also the practitioners themselves who might be reading this! Please share. Psychic education leads to better, safer practitioners, which means more safe options for those seeking this work. Safety first, y’all. Over and out.
-Rachel Leah Gerson
About the Author~
Rachel Leah Gerson is a Metaphysical Practitioner and Psychic Educator, and the creatrix of Doorway to Self, LLC. A graduate of the University of Michigan in English and Creative Writing and a current master’s student of Clinical Mental Health Counselling at Western Michigan University, Gerson is determined to help people understand the intersection of mental health and psychic abilities, because “If you’re human, you’re psychic”. You can find more of Gerson's work at doorwaytoself.com, as well as through Doorway to Self or @doorwaytoself on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram."
Photo of Rachel by Brooke Rosenblum Photography