THE ART OF VOLUNTEERING
By Michele Bernhardt, CHTP, RM/I
As we move from Level 1 to certification, most Healing Touch students turn to volunteer opportunities to practice their skills. Volunteering becomes particularly important between Level 4 and 5, when we must document 100 treatments – a requirement which usually exceeds the number of treatments we can easily accomplish with just our families, friends and practice groups. After completing Level 5, some Healing Touch practitioners may want to continue to volunteer Healing Touch as ongoing community service. It’s also a practical tool for networking and building “word of mouth” when starting your own practice.
When we choose to volunteer, it’s useful to keep in mind the differences between “helping,” “fixing,” and “serving.” When we “help” we see life as weak, and when we “fix” we see life as broken; but when we “serve” we see life as whole. So from that perspective, it’s valuable to approach volunteering as an opportunity to “serve.” “Helping” the client positions us as strong and the client as weak, and may inadvertently diminish their self-esteem. When we volunteer in the spirit of “serving,” it becomes an energy exchange between equals that benefits us as much as the client.
Most areas throughout California have multiple outlets for volunteering, each with its own unique requirements. When deciding when and where to volunteer it is important to make sure our volunteer commitments support our own self-care. How many days or hours a month is required as a commitment? How far will you have to travel? Will the specific times you need to volunteer conflict with other activities you might want to do? Is the volunteer opportunity aligned with a population you are interested in serving?
It’s also important to be aware of the flip side of volunteering: None of us should feel shy about charging money for Healing Touch sessions, and should not let our desire to be of community service diminish our ability to earn a living through our practice. We can easily do both!