Is My Provider Human?: How I Cope with the Professionalization of Compassion

A major challenge for the health profession is one that comes with any profession: when we become professionals and experts, we sometimes cannot find the space to share that we too are prone to the ailments we want to help others with. We lose our story and analyze the stories of others (our clients) out of context. Story is context. Story is how humans bond, and it needs to be reciprocal. We share, and our listener then shares. This is where growth happens and healing takes hold.

If, like me, you sometimes find a divide in your caregivers between the professional and human, first, know that there are health professionals who also struggle with their own health and feel trapped that they cannot share their full story with patients, and second, try reading Rachel Naomi Remen. She suffers from Chron’s disease, is a distinguished physician, professor and scholar, and she provides insightful critiques of the frameworks used by many in the helping professions. Through story. Her books heal the souls of people hurting with all sorts of ailments, and she is one of my inspirations and go-tos when I feel like my relationships with helping professionals are less than empowering.

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