For me the greatest challenge of being a healer is gauging what to tell my patients when I perceive truths about them that I know will make them uncomfortable. Figuring out what kind of trauma underlies a physical or psychological problem is relatively easy. It's the kind of intuitive information that people broadcast with their bodies all the time. The difficult part is figuring out if they're ready to listen to this information on a conscious level and how I can make them feel safe enough to hear it.
This happens most frequently in cases of sexual abuse by a "beloved" parent - or equally by one who seems to have been "too distant" or "too unemotional" or "too unsexual" to ever have done such a thing. The other case is abortion attempts - although these are, amazingly, somewhat easier for people to hear about if not to deal with.
The first thing I usually get in response is "But I have no memory of that." At this point I try to patiently explain that if it had been safe to remember it, to bring it into consciousness, the information would not have had to be held in the body and cause the kind of distress it is creating.
Typical symptoms of unremembered sexual abuse are habitually sitting with ones hands between ones legs, hip pain or degeneration, lower back pain, insomnia, infertility, ovarian cysts, fybroids, aversion to certain kinds of sexual contact, frigidity, premature ejaculation, prostate problems, hemorrhoids, rejection of body parts - or of the body as a whole - homosexuality, attraction to pornography, promiscuity, candida, urinary tract infections, compulsive hand washing and germophobia- to name just a few.
Typical symptoms of unremembered abortion attempts are constant anxiety, severe depression, irrational fear of certain foods, a general inability to trust people, fear of sharp objects, fear or growth or change.
The second greatest challenge for me is dealing with my own sense of urgency around other people's healing. There is a certain feeling I get in my chest along with an impulse to lean forward towards the person with whom I'm working that tells me that my need to have this person heal is not trustworthy - and above all not helpful to their healing process.
When this happens I have to take a moment to pull back into myself and examine what I'm feeling. Inevitably the emotion of pain comes up usually with a relevant image that tells me what part of my past my reaction is coming from. Once I've acknowledged this to myself I can once again be fully present for my patient and separate my desire for his well being from my desperate childhood need to have someone in my family wake up and heal.
Of course the two issues are related. My "need" to have someone see the truth about his history interferes with my ability to judge wisely just how much information and change he can deal with at a given moment. Once I've clarified and processed my own feelings about the situation I have a much better chance of matching truth with timing and being truly helpful to my shocked and traumatized patients.