Healing isn’t a Place; it’s a Relationship

Emotional healing doesn’t happen in one place, at one time. It’s not confined to four walls and doesn’t always submit to a particular schedule or “treatment plan.” It does happen within the warmth, security and trust of a good relationship.

Can you help someone experience that if you don’t have a degree or specialized training?

I wrestle with the assumptions a) I have a “professional career” and therefore I “turned out well”, b) “adoption-competency” is the hero; that enough knowledge would rescue a family, and c) our definitions of “competency” today will remain stable over time.

What I mean is I’m grateful for the way my story has unfolded thus far. I was in jail at one point in my life, long ago, and it’s generally been folks very “non-clinical” who’ve helped inspire significant pivot points in my journey as an adoptee; as a person. My path from point A to point B has not been “formal.” And I still need help to make it to point C.

That personal experience brings up two perspectives for me.

1. First, it takes some pressure off therapists and parents. It’s comforting to know there are “non-clinical” avenues in which a person navigating adoption-related needs could receive joining, hope, healing, guidance, restoration, etc.

2. Secondly, and perhaps as a neat pairing, it does compel me as a mental health professional to ask, “What was it about those relationships? What processes were operating? How will the informal paths I’ve experienced give depth and breadth to the formal services I seek to offer others? And how could I pull those ethically and professionally into my clinical work with families and the ones they love?

I believe it’s possible! And that we should investigate and pursue it. We of course see incredible value in “formal” counseling; trained professional support, board certification, licensure, continued education, etc.

And I’m persuaded that as we all enter this space as learners and students, colleagues and leaders, parents and relatives, we’ll discover, collaborate, and receive sight about what that looks like for each one of us in our unique callings and contexts to be in warm relationships with the ones we seek to love.

In summary, I believe those you care about would immeasurably benefit from your genuine time, heart and energies, no matter what your background is. Remember, healing isn’t a place, it’s a relationship. They’re probably counting on it more than you know.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you experienced healing, growth, change, help in some way in places other than “formal” counseling? What was that like for you? Have you felt you’ve helped someone through a tough or dark time, just by being present with them and extending seasons of intentional love and guidance?


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