Add as bookmark

Sharing a Common Ground

by June Butlin(more info)

listed in complementary medicine, originally published in issue 20 - May 1997

It's not so long ago that complementary therapy was frowned upon and each discipline at that time was working towards the common goal of establishing themselves in the health care system. Nowadays, there are many complementary disciplines and each therapy has much to offer, whether body work, psychotherapy, counselling, nutrition, polarity therapy etc. – all of which have undisputedly helped many people to improve their health. Each therapist strongly believes in, and values, their skills as being a major therapeutic intervention to healing.

However, even among the most skillful and competent therapists, there are opposing views. For example, Alan Rudolf, Ph.D. consolidates his energy, time and focus on the complex somatic therapies of Rolling and Feldenkrais in order to be a master practitioner.

On the other hand, Leon Chaitow, ND. DO. has taken a multi-disciplinary approach to healing, encompassing naturopathy, osteopathy and acupuncture to become a master practitioner. Even amongst the disciplines themselves there are opposing beliefs. As we all know there is no magic bullet for healing and it would appear that there is truth and very good work established amongst therapists of all disciplines.

I feel, however, that there is one major common ground, which is important for all the disciplines, and that is client care. Here, I feel there are two focuses that need to be taken into consideration. The first is ourselves and working on our own professional qualities of patience, honesty, compassion, humility, acceptance and being able to support, motivate and educate our clients. The second is to be able to have an understanding of the uniqueness of individuals which is of paramount importance to the healing process. This is often difficult and it is only through experience and practice with clients that it is possible to build up a repertoire of evaluation, diagnoses and intuitive perception.

The essence of both of these focuses can be used to recognise the mental physical, emotional and spiritual signs presented by our clients. This, in turn will help the practitioner to choose the right direction for the clients to help them achieve their own level of health.

Sometimes this may even mean standing back to allow the client to heal in their own time.

To illustrate this, let's take a brief look at the case history of Margaret, a widow who contacted me last May. Her presenting symptoms were high blood pressure, slight osteo-arthritis and a benign sebaceous cyst on her forehead.

On meeting Margaret she was elegantly dressed with immaculate make up but appeared slightly stressed and agitated. She seemed overly anxious about her own health and her major concern was the threat of her benign sebaceous cyst spreading to other body parts. A thorough case history revealed emotional digestive and liver problems and that she was a little overweight for her 5' 2" frame.

Apart from these symptoms, Margaret was fit and healthy for her 71 years and was trying everything possible to improve her own health.

The nutritional strategy was to target the liver and to supplement Silymarin to clear the lymph nodes and regulate the liver function.

Following the liver cleanse, a diet based on good quality wholefoods with adequate essential fatty acids to lower the blood pressure was administered. The diet involved eliminating some of the foods from the Solanacea family that exacerbate the arthritic condition, such as oranges, peppers and potatoes, plus all dairy produce. Lots of filtered and bottled mountain water was to be drunk along with vegetable juices – carrot, celery, cabbage and beetroot – and comfrey camomile and peppermint herb teas. A multi vitamin and mineral capsule emphasising the B vitamins was taken to help with the emotional stress and homoeostasis. Zinc picolinate and comfrey compresses targeted the cyst, and skin brushing was advised twice daily to keep the sebaceous glands unblocked.

Equally important to the healing process were other non-nutritional strategies including exercise, relaxation and counselling. In Margaret's case, the exercise programme included the use of a bouncer, gentle stretches and light resistant training to build bone density and to maintain lean body tissue. Relaxation techniques included thirty minutes of meditation each day, and aromatherapy baths and massages using oils such as lavender and frankincense. Counselling techniques were used to target Margaret's stress and a specially designed personal health monitoring chart was filled in each week to assess the progress that she had made.

The outcome was that the digestive problems and slight arthritis cleared and the blood pressure lowered. The cyst on the forehead reduced in size and there was no spread to other body parts. Her last fitness test showed an improvement in aerobic capacity, flexibility and lung function. Margaret lost 7lbs and felt much fitter and healthier. There still appeared to be some liver congestion and underlying stress, but all in all Margaret was pleased with the progress that she had made.

A good case study, you may think. Yes, possibly, on the surface. The main presenting symptoms had cleared and Margaret was happy.

However, the mental, physical emotional and spiritual signs throughout the consultations told me that we were not getting to the root cause of Margaret's problems. The tell tale signs were: her extreme loneliness, her obsession with her health, the underlying ongoing stress, her occasional irritation and changeable moods, her lack of eye contact and the occasional times when Margaret was less than immaculately turned out with the smell of alcohol on her breath. These signs revealed a much deeper problem. Margaret was suffering from long-term alcoholism. She gave no verbal clues throughout the consultations and kept the secret to cope alone. Intuition, along with experience, knowledge of Prochaska and DiClemente's cycle of behaviour change and John Harrison's book, Love Your Disease It's Keeping You Healthy, told me to respect her silent decision.

Cases such as these can be difficult as there is always a tendency for a practitioner to want to target a known problem to prevent future ill health. However, this type of interference can often prove to be detrimental to the client, especially, if the client is not ready to deal with the problem. Margaret was obviously neither ready nor prepared to confront the issue of alcohol, and I had to accept that she was coping in her own way. I knew that she needed time to face her own reality and to take on board the responsibility of loving and caring for herself.

I gave her a programme of prevention and offered her an after care service in the hope that one day she may be ready to enter the cycle of change.


Prochaska and DiClemente, Towards a comprehensive model of change. In: Miller, W. R. and Heather, N. (Eds), Treating Addictive Behaviour:Processes of Change. Plenum, New York, 1986.
Love Your Disease It's Keeping You Healthy, John Harrison.Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1986.


  1. No Article Comments available

Post Your Comments:

About June Butlin

June M Butlin PhD is a trained teacher, nutritionist, kinesiologist, aromatherapist, fitness trainer and sports therapist. She is a writer, health researcher and lecturer and is committed to helping people achieve their optimum level of health and runs a private practice in Wiltshire. June can be contacted on 01225 869 284;

  • Beginner's Guide to ME

    Essential reading for people/carers with ME/CFS serious debilitating illness. Counteracts bad advice

top of the page