In addition to the treatments and prescriptions they receive, most people hope for relationships with their clinicians that will themselves be healing. Yet few scholars have taken to time to understand just how relationships with healthcare providers can help patients get well. In this volume Schenck and Churchill synthesize the results of fifty interviews with practitioners identified by their peers as "healers." This book explores in depth the things that the best clinicians do. The focus is not on the many theories of healing, but on the specific actions that exceptional clinicians perform to improve their interaction with their patients, and subsequently improve their patients' overall health. The authors analyze the ritual structure and spiritual meaning of these healing skills, as well as their scientific basis. They offer a new, more holistic interpretation of the "placebo effect," and provide recommendations that will promote relational competence, as well as technical competence, in their students.
Recognizing that the best healers are also people who know how to care for themselves, the authors examine responses to the question: "What activities that promote wellness, wholeness and healing do you personally engage in?" These responses will be of particular value to healthcare professionals. The final chapter explores the deep connections between the mastery of healing skills for patient care and the mastery of what the authors call the "skills of ethics." Being a good health care professional and being a good person are intimately related. Schenck and Churchill argue further that ethics should be considered a healing art, alongside the art of medicine. This book has relevance for everyone who is or will be a patient, everyone for whom relationships with healthcare providers make a difference-in short, all of us.