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Common Denominators Across Healing Modalities

by Dr Daniel Benor(more info)

listed in mind body, originally published in issue 111 - May 2005

Is it possible to identify commonalities across the hundreds of variations on the themes of healing?

Between Acupuncture and Zen, one's problems may be addressed at many possible levels within the wholistic spectrum. Each modality has its unique characteristics and blends of elements to address our ills – through body, emotions, mind, relationships (with other people and the environment) and spirit. One or more of these healing approaches may have precisely the key one is seeking to help resolve one's problems – or may miss the mark in some way that leaves one with minimal response or no benefit at all.

Most of the Complementary/ Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies make broad claims of being able to help many of the same problems. Evidence is beginning to accumulate to show that many of these claims are accurate.

Despite their differences, I am impressed that we can identify several common elements among these therapies – having experienced and studied many of them, and having reviewed the available research confirming the efficacy and effectiveness of a broad spectrum of CAM studies.[2][3]

General Healing Factors in Therapy

Facing issues/not running away from dis-ease or disease

Making a firm decision to explore your problems is the first step.

Often, we run away from our difficulties. In an initial crisis, avoidance may be a constructive approach. This leaves us more energy to deal with a current situation. Shutting off feelings in an emergency allows a person to be more clear-headed and to do what is logically necessary.

In other situations, avoidance may reduce immediate distress, but may leave residues and scars from the emotional traumas. Here, avoidance helps us not feel the tensions of our stresses, but does not resolve our problems. Even worse, we may end up investing enormous energies pretending these memories and feelings are not locked away inside us, and may continue running away from ourselves.

Many therapies offer us opportunities to face the issues we have buried inside us, thereby bringing us to a place of healing.

Finding a space of love, acceptance and Spirit and remaining in this space

When we are distressed, it is easy to lose our groundedness, getting lost in hurt, anger and despair.

A therapist will help us reconnect with the love, acceptance and awareness of Spirit which are healing. This occurs through cognitive analyses and restructuring of our beliefs and feelings; through reconnecting with and processing our feelings; through the corrective experience of a caring relationship; through healing energies and vibrations; and through resonations of the care-seeker with the care-giver's connection with the All.

Specific therapeutic approaches may markedly enhance this aspect of therapy, e.g. WHEE;[4] EmotionalBody Process;[5] meditation;[6][7] and prayer.

Giving oneself permission to release the behaviours, memories, feelings, attachments to problems and problematic ways of dealing with them

Insight is just the first step to many forms of healing. In addition to understanding, one must follow through with the intent to change one's patterns of perception, emotional and cognitive responses, and behaviors, if healing is to occur.

Many a care-seeker has wished to be free of pain and illness, but hesitates to relinquish old and familiar patterns of behaviour. The support and encouragement of care-givers can help to bridge the chasm – which is often experienced as an enormous void – between old and as-yet-undiscovered and undeveloped new and better ways of dealing with issues.

In Summary

It appears that diverse CAM therapies, based on a variety of theories and approaches, may have many healing elements in common.

It will be interesting to see research that can clarify whether there are, indeed, differences in the spectrum of effectiveness and efficacy of the different therapies, as claimed – or whether the similarities in the approaches, as discussed above, are the elements that contribute to their positive results.

In addition to the general factors which are common denominators among the healing therapies, there are also specific techniques promoting healing. These will be discussed in my next column.


1 Buddha. Quoted in Rossi and Ernest. Hypnotic Realities: The Induction of Clinical Hypnosis and Forms of Indirect Suggestion. New York. Irvington/Halsted/Wiley. 1976.
2 Benor DJ. Healing Research. Volume II. Professional Edition. Consciousness, Bioenergy and Healing. Medford. NJ. Wholistic Healing Publications. 2004.
3 Benor DJ. Healing Research. Volume II. Popular Edition. How Can I Heal What Hurts? Medford. NJ. Wholistic Healing Publications. 2005.
4 Benor DJ. Self-healing: Brief psychotherapy with WHEE, a hybrid of meridian based therapies and EMDR, other approaches. Article posted on author's website: 2000.
5 Benor DJ, von Stumpfeldt, Dorothea and Benor R. EmotionalBody Process. Part I. Healing through Love. International Journal of Healing and Caring – online 1(1). 2001. Part II. IJHC 2(1). 2002.
6 Kornfield J. The Healing Path. New York. Bantam. 1993.
7 Levine S. Guided Meditations, Explorations and Healing. London. Anchor/Doubleday. 1991.

Other Resources

*An expanded version of this article was published as the editorial for the International Journal of Healing and Caring, January 2005.


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About Dr Daniel Benor

Daniel J. Benor, M.D. is a psychiatrist in New Jersey who blends wholistic, bodymind approaches, spiritual awareness and healing in his practice. He is the author of Healing Research, Volumes I-IV and many articles on wholistic, spiritual healing. He appears internationally on radio and TV. He is on the Advisory Council of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychotherapy (ACEP). He is editor and producer of the International Journal of Healing and Caring ­ On Line See more by and about Dr. Benor at:

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