Communication & Medicine, Vol 5, No 2 (2008)

The call to Hawaii: Holistic practitioners’ perspectives of their communicative practices of healing

Patricia Geist-Martin, Catherine Becker, Summer Carnett, Katherine Slauta
Issued Date: 14 Mar 2009


The big island of Hawaii has been named the healing island – a place with varied interpretations of healing, health, and a wide range of holistic health care practices. This research explores the perspectives of holistic providers about the communicative practices they believe are central to their interactions with patients. Intensive ethnographic interviews with 20 individuals revealed that they perceive their communication with clients as centered on four practices, specifically: (a) reciprocity – a mutual action or exchange in which both the practitioner and patient are equal partners in the healing process; (b) responsibility – the idea that, ultimately, people must heal themselves; (c) forgiveness – the notion that healing cannot progress if a person holds the burden of anger and pain; and (d) balance – the idea that it is possible to bring like and unlike things together in unity and harmony. The narratives revealed providers’ ontological assumptions about mind-body systems and the rationalities they seek to resist in their conversations with patients.

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.v5i2.133


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