A mainstream alternative

Last week as part of the video learning class we had a debate on mainstream counseling vs. alternative therapy. The class was divided into two groups and after a brief activity the debate began. At the end of the debate 2 videos were shown on alternative healing – reflexology and hypnotism.

The term alternative is quite misleading when you think about it. An alternative to what? Traditional mainstream system of thought perhaps? The first thing that comes to mind is that alternative therapy is practiced by an unskilled healer in an unscientific manner, or perhaps alternative therapy is just a bit more than a party trick with some mystical element thrown in. Whatever the idea it all boils down to the fact that alternative therapies whatever they are not a by product of positivist science. Is healing (I am using the word deliberately here) can therapy be nothing more than what we have come to believe in? Alternate systems rather what we call alternative now were once the dominant system of healing. Auyuveda, acupuncture, yoga were all validated systems in their era, but as notions of illness and the body changed so did the system. The current system of treating the body and isn’t always accepted neither are all forms of mental health intervention. Health insurance is a necessity for most of us these days and that ensures that we go to see practitioners who are grounded in the allopathic system and are subject to the coldness that goes with the sterile course of treatment. But in this current system the practitioner is the authority figure who has more knowledge than the sufferer, the symptoms take precedence and they need to be treated. System is applied to say the mental health you get a system that works almost similarly. The client must be treated no doubt but the system can’t expand beyond a point it reaches its limit. Now I don’t say yoga has all the answers it certainly does not. No system of the body or the mind can predict illness or health both concepts are always in a state of flux. No system of medicine can prevent an illness it can only make assumptions sometimes validated assumptions.

What heals or cures is a subjective domain rather than a rule. Illness or maladjustment will remain, but the nature and definition will continue to vary. As new illnesses are invented new systems of cure will emerge .But that doesn’t mean that one system of healing is better or dominant over the other the use of term alternative and mainstream implies a binary opposition. Each system has a point a very valid point the methods are different but the goal remains the same – to cure. To oppose an older system as primitive or to discard it in favour of a newer method only develops a system that is reactionary. The goal for a practitioner of health- bodily or mental is not to work for the system but for the ever present subject of enquiry the client or the patient. Sonia Soans

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful