Friday, October 16, 2009

Inherently whole, intrinsically well.....

"What would it be like to approach our lives, and to engage in the lives of others, knowing we are all inherently whole, intrinsically well, in need of being drawn forth into the discovery of unabashed completeness? How would this change the entire dance of practitioner and patient? What kind of relationship would be wrought and shaped when seen from, and uncompromisingly held within, this point of view?"
Saki Santorelli
from Heal Thyself: Lesson on Mindfulness in Medicine

Reading this quote, takes me in lots of different directions. It is a personal and professional challenge to view myself differently and to view those with whom I work differently. It is a quote that has changed me personally and influence my desire to 'capture' and articulate how I work - or aspire to work (an 'orientation to practice') with clients in my role as a community health care social worker.

The clientele served most commonly by social work are individuals and families who are vulnerable and often marginalized because of circumstances (physical/mental health, social, economic, environmental, cultural, etc.) largely beyond their control. More often than not, they are perceived as 'broken', 'difficult', 'unhealthy' (in reference to their lifestyle, how they live), 'needy'; they are certainly not frequently perceived as 'inherently whole' and 'intrinsically well'.

So how is it that we change the way we view our clients who come to us shattered by life circumstances, weakened by illness or injury, silenced and shamed by stigma? Our actions and interactions with clients do not create wholeness; they do not fix flaws or fill holes. If what Santorelli suggests in the above quote is true, our actions and interactions with our clients facilitate the emergence, the restoration of lives that, while shattered and compromised are still inherently whole.