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The Inevitability of Healing: Verbal First Aid™ for Recovery from Surgery and Illness

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Verbal First Aid™ is not only a tool that can help them facilitate healing in the immediate crisis (a fall, a burn, a frightening nightmare), but can give them resources for a lifetime. By teaching them that they can change a perception of pain, alter an immune response, or smooth over a scare easily and quickly, we also teach them what they themselves are capable of in terms of their own self-management. By using Verbal First Aid™ with our children, we help them experience from the earliest age that they have some control over what they think, what they feel, and how to use those processes to their highest potential.

Adults are more closed because they have been filled with a multitude of ideas about who they are and how things "must be."

General Reminders About Healing

There are some basic concepts to remember when you or someone you love gets hurt, sick or requires surgery.

  1. Energy moves energy. Your cells respond to energy at the most fundamental level. Genetics change based on perception and thought.
  1. Therefore what you think is as important as what you do. It is more than just repeating pleasant aphorisms in the mirror. It is a fundamental belief system. It is your core programming or operating system.
  1. What you say to others makes a difference in how they heal. When you are with a person who has been hurt or frightened, there are things you can say that help and things that can hurt.

What to Say: First Things First

Verbal First Aid™ requires a few basics (see The Worst Is Over, Acosta/Prager) but the most fundamental is rapport. Getting rapport with a person you are caring for (whether short or long-term) requires what we have called the ABC's of therapeutic communication.

Authority: Who do we follow when we want to get out of a burning building? A firefighter. It is a natural inclination to follow someone who is "uniformed" and whom we perceive knows what he or she is doing. In order to enable a person to follow us (our words) towards a calmer, more healing state, we need to approach a person with some of that same authority. The simplest and most basic way to do that is by saying, "I see where you're hurt. I'm going to help you."

Believability: Whatever we say, we must be truthful. That doesn't mean telling someone that a procedure will hurt or that they're doomed. (We honestly don't know how anything will be perceived or how things will turn out.) But it does mean acknowledging where a person is at that moment. Saying "everything's fine" when clearly everything is not fine brings our credibility down to zero.

Compassion: Our compassion is comparable to the sound wave that carries a tune. Our message of healing, our suggestions are received because the one we are speaking to can tell we care about him. People tend to follow those whom they believe sincerely care for their wellbeing.

Once rapport is developed, you can begin to give healing suggestions. The following are some general examples rather than specific scenarios.

General Metaphors for Healing

When our bodies fail us, when we get sick or hurt or wounded, when we are facing surgery or "procedures", what I often hear from people are two things: 1) Shock--how could this have happened to me? 2) What if this never ends? Is this the way it's going to be for me from now on?

We all seem to fall into the same trap. Despite all our experiences and recoveries, whenever we get sick we forget that we've gotten sick before and have recovered. Despite all our knowledge to the contrary, we forget that we are not just bodies and have resources we can draw on both concretely and spiritually.

If you look around, you will notice something rather surprising and important: Healing is the rule rather than the exception. But for the obvious (at least to me) fact that all of us are temporarily making a journey through a fallen universe and will one day hopefully be called Home, most people heal reasonably well from most injuries and illnesses.

The following are some ideas to keep in your pocket for use in most any crisis, whether physical or psychological:

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Judith Acosta, LISW, CHT is a licensed psychotherapist and clinical homeopath in private practice in Placitas and Albuquerque. Her areas of specialization include the treatment of anxiety, depression, and trauma. She has appeared on both television (more...)
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