Episode 34 | When Your Own Health Makes You Doubt Your Ability to Work with Others

What if I can't do this...

Doubt and fear are incredibly common when you're in clinical practice.

When you have your own health issues, particularly when they're not resolved or you're in a flare, it can be easy to tell yourself that you're in no position to help others with the same thing.

Why should they trust me, when I can't even get my own health under control?

This comes up often in my mentoring work.

I love that you're thinking through these questions. It's an important part of being an ethical practitioner to ask yourself when you are equipped to help, and when something is out of your scope.

In this episode, I argue that your own state of health or lack thereof does not disqualify you from being able to help someone else who's experiencing a similar condition.

If you are otherwise trained and qualified to support someone, then don't let your worries about how things will be perceived hold you back.

It's always easier to assess what's going on with someone else than it is to assess and create a plan for yourself.

You are not the same as your client.

Their journey is different from yours.

Your experience with a similar condition can lend depth and compassion to your work, and your training and professionalism will guide you as you provide the best care you can.

❤️❤️❤️


Transcript of When Your Own Health Makes You Doubt Your Ability to Work with Others episode

Episode 34 | When Your Own Health Makes You Doubt Your Ability to Work with Others - powered by Happy Scribe

Well, Hi there. Welcome to in the Clinic with Camille. My name is Camille Freeman. I am a licensed nutritionist and registered herbalist, and in this podcast I share a little tips and tidbits that may be helpful for other practitioners. Today.

I want to talk to you about something that comes comes up pretty often in the mentoring work that I do. This is something I hear a lot about from people who are newer to clinical practice, although it can show up at any stage of running a practice. And that is this idea that if I have a health condition or concern or issue that I haven't really been able to heal or overcome or handle or deal with myself, I don't really feel qualified to help somebody else who has that same thing so you can insert any kind of health condition here. I've had these people come up with this around mental health types of things. I've had people say this around IBS or digestive conditions, whatever it is and saying, like, I'm not fully recovered from this.

I haven't figured out a way to feel like I've got this under control. Like, I'm living sustainably with this condition. I'm in no position to help somebody else who has this thing, so I probably just shouldn't do that. I should refer them out or what have you. So I want to talk about this a little bit.

One of the things I want to say at the very beginning here is that I'm glad you're asking this question. I think it's a hallmark of ethical practitioners to do that self reflection to step back and think, is it ethical for me to work with people? That means that you're thinking carefully and keeping the best interest of your client in heart. And I love that, I love that you are so concerned about this. I think it's an important conversation to have.

So I'm not saying that you should think this and you should just suppress it and be like, oh, okay. Well, never mind that I'm just going to forge ahead. That's not the message here. What I am saying, though, is that I want you to think carefully about your assumptions about the work that you do. One of the things I think we can agree on is that you don't personally need to have experienced something in order to help somebody else with that situation.

So I'm happy to help people who have GERD, even though that's not something I personally experience. I still think that I have a lot of useful experience, tips and suggestions that perhaps would be really helpful to somebody who was going through that. All right. So we take that assumption that you aren't going to have experienced personally everything that all of your clients have, and you can still be an effective resource and practitioner for people. If you take that and then you say, oh, okay.

So my personal experience does not necessarily directly reflect my ability to be a good practitioner. I think you'll see that you can apply that to your own personal health challenges. Now, if your health challenges or whatever else is going on for you is preventing you from being fully present from your clients. If it's something that you need to step back from your clinical practice and handle, of course, that is a different situation. That's not what I'm talking about here.

What I'm talking about here is people who are looking to you for help, for something that is within your scope, that you are trained, that you have the background and so forth that you can support somebody with this. And your concern is just, oh, what about my own struggles with this? And I don't feel right about doing it. All right. So to that, there are a few things I would like to say.

One of them is that having personally experienced something, even if you haven't figured out a resolution or a cure or you're not healed or whatever you want to say, that personal experience does give you a particular type of understanding that you can use to enhance your clinical work. Of course, there are boundaries. Of course, we have to watch out for projection and all that type of thing. But I do think that when you know the ins and the outs of something, you know better questions to ask, you may have better resources to refer people to. You may be able to guide them a little bit more clearly about what's coming up and the pathway, even if you're a little bit further down the path than they are, that can be a valuable part of the practitioner team.

So I wanted to throw that in there. Pardon me. But the other thing I wanted to throw in here is I want you to think about your assumptions about what your work is as a practitioner. Okay. So if you think the point of somebody coming to work with you is for them to get fully healed, to get fully better, to feel like their whatever it is is gone or managed or whatever else.

I want you to just sit with that and think about that. Would that be nice? Yes. Is that what you're offering? I think you'll find that the work that you're offering is not that necessarily.

Is it great if some people have resolution of symptoms or diseases, conditions, things like that, of course. Is that going to happen sometimes? Yes. Is that going to happen all of the time? No, it's not.

And there's still value in the work to be done. There's still value in the journey that happens as we undertake support. We learn things about ourselves. We learn how to listen to our bodies. We learn what we can do to support ourselves when things are okay and when we're going to flare, when things are not very okay.

We have people who listen to us and who hear what we're saying and reflect it back to us. We have people who are checking on us. We feel part of a community. We feel loved. Those are all parts of the healing process.

Those happen. And I think for many of us that learning that evolution, that is more part of the healing, then. Okay, how can we just suppress these symptoms? How can we get rid of this disease condition? Whatever it is, it's the listening.

It's the understanding. It's the learning that you facilitate as a practitioner. That's a core part of it. As we all know, even with the same diagnosis, we have very different pathways. So two people can have a diagnosis of GERD.

Let's just say, and just because your GERDwent this one way does not mean that the other person's GERD is going to go the same. That some of the things you've already tried and didn't work for you aren't going to work for this person. So I think we need to remember that each person is unique, that their particular path or journey with this condition is going to be specific to them, and that what you have to offer is not the cure, the complete resolution of symptoms and so forth. What you have to offer is the space that you create, the process that you help people walk through and the guidance that you can offer to them. So you may be able to do that more effectively.

Having been there yourself. Maybe you can't. Maybe you really do need to say no. I think I'm too immersed in my own journey, and I can't step back and say because that didn't work for me. It won't work for you.

If you're feeling like that, then perhaps you do need to step back. If you're not able to kind of bring your training and so forth to the work and separate your own experiences from that work. I think most people are able to do that effectively. And so what I'm offering you here is just an opportunity to reflect on why you're feeling that and to realize that your role here is supporting the client. If you think that you can support the client regardless of your own personal health circumstances, then I don't see any reason.

Any reason why you can't work with a client, even if you have the same situation and you don't feel like yours is resolved at this point. Okay, so just sharing a few thoughts with you on that one. Please let me know what you think if you have any questions, if you have any additions, if this was like, absolutely not. If I've overlooked anything major, I would love to hear about it. Reach out any time.

Otherwise, I'll see you next time and have a wonderful day. Bye.


About Camille

Hi there! I'm a clinical herbalist and licensed nutritionist specializing in fertility and reproductive health. I mentor other practitioners who need help building and growing their practices, working with complicated clients and getting clinical hours. I have a doctorate in clinical nutrition, and I'm also a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I teach physiology, pathophysiology, and mindful eating. 

My pronouns are she/hers. 

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