What are your privacy rights during a healing session?


When we seek a spiritual healing experience – we are often at our most vulnerable. A low point, a relationship breakdown, a physical issue, an energy depletion, we may just need a little pick me up, a pampering, or we could be working through some serious and deeply entrenched stuff. Whatever the reason, it is a space we believe is private, a sanctuary, a place we can feel safe to open up. We could be sharing very deep experiences, we may crumble, we may cry, laugh, exalt, or simply sit quietly. We may be physically relaxed, feeling secure and in a private wee cocoon. A cocoon that could be in the living room of a local healer, a hired hall, a studio, or a practitioner’s hub.


But… what if you’re being filmed?


After visiting a healer herself, Hayley learned – after the fact, that the healer she’d visited had recorded her visit on video. A time of vulnerability for her, a time of healing for herself, a sacred and private space – or so she thought. Hayley had an inkling that something was amiss during the session, she is, after all, highly intuitive.


The grey area here is blurred further by the fact that Hayley is a well renowned healer herself, practicing in a way which she takes privacy and respect seriously. A review for Hayley is given via a platform and it is understood to be a sharing of information, given with consent, given as feedback, given knowing it could be used to strengthen her presence, gain trust from new perspective clients and as a tool for Hayley to understand the impact of her own practice.


When Hayley’s most private session was taped, and worse, touted online by another practitioner – the betrayal was double fold. As a person her privacy violated, as a practitioner her actual business practice used as a scaffold for another, and all without consent. When the healer in question admitted to Hayley, post session, that she’d been taping the session, Hayley clearly stated – DO NOT use this material. The healer apologised and asked for Hayley’s forgiveness, which was given, yet a few months later while scrolling through Instagram – Hayley saw the video footage. It had been layered with a marketing sales pitch and posted across social media platforms.


There are laws around privacy and given the strong sense of self and spiritual grounding Hayley has, she had the strength and every right to take this healer to The Privacy Commission. Instead – she’s taking this as an important learning and asking the questions we should all be asking…


Are we safe as clients of healers? Are we, as healers, doing what we can to protect our clients? But how do we do this without a clearly written governance and guidelines?


It’s extraordinary to think that once upon a time, your grandmother or great grandmother and generations of women before them have sat upon a treatment or medical bed with a parade of doctors examining her, discussing her issues, openly sharing her opinions, making a diagnosis, perhaps writing and sending to print the intimate details of her affliction or experience without any repercussion, without respect for how it might have made her feel.


Sensitive practitioners exist now, as they may have done over the years, who do and have approached with discretion, treated carefully and considerately. However most medical practitioners for hundreds of years had somewhat ‘free reign’. How brilliant in may have been to be a practitioner! Even experimenting on patients a common practice.


Some incredible results have come about from modern medicine. Some of us may not have children without modern medicine, we may have lived shorter lives, never been able to see or hear. But many difficult situations have also occurred – sometimes resulting in mental or physical trauma, medical misadventures, or a simple compromise on trust from one human being to another. It is, after all, a situation built on trust. You share, you are vulnerable, you hope for a positive transformative result whether it’s medicine for your ailment, a prayer for your woes, a tincture for your tinnitus, a laying of healing hands or simply someone to confide in and share your troubles. It is in good faith we attend a healing practitioner, whatever their practice, with the hope that there will be an alleviation or even a revelation.  


Over hundreds of years as a ‘lawful society’ our professions have gathered precisely written governance around best practice, privacy laws, consequences, non-disclosure agreements, written consent requirements, client privacy and practitioner privileges. Rights clearly set out. These laws, guidelines, forms, consents and ‘red tape’ have been built on the backs of our grandmother’s experiences – because they haven’t all been good.


We though, are now at a point in time where a few things are starting to collide, and quickly. There’s a stronger sense of the bigger picture from a wider portion of people or a willingness to be open to practices beyond the widely and socially accepted ‘normal’ ones or commonly visited – like our general practitioners, physios, and specialists. A resurgence – or simply more recognition in our modern world of the many incredible traditional healing practices.  Combine this with modern technology, everything can be found online, we can find our ‘people’, find our ‘practice’, share our ‘woo woo’ experiences with more acceptance – very generally speaking.


Social media may lead us to a spiritual healer sensation with many followers or a well reputed local healer with amazing word of mouth recognition, so we seek them out, we visit, we have trust, and we have faith.


In NZ it’s believed that the first Medical Practitioners Act came about in 1867 so we’re talking 150 years ago. Here’s an excerpt from The History of the Medical Council of New Zealand.

“Why is regulation of professional groups such as doctors necessary? The short answer is that, while the majority are honourable people providing a competent often excellent service, there is the potential for harm.”

Doctor to patient, patient to doctor. Healer to client, client to healer. It’s a similar relationship but layered with a sprinkling more of the grey area, because we don’t have the laws and the forms and the repercussions that are now tightly wrapped around many practices. Even then, we may still experience or hear of issues but there are ways to deal with it, numbers to call, actions to take. It would be amazing to think that we might see the same consideration given to the less widely accepted but incredible practices we might be partaking in our lifetime, so let’s put it out there – we will!


We are building the experiences for our own children and grandchildren upon the experiences we are having now. Let’s make them positive ones, let’s take the opportunity to begin building our own safe guidelines, because what’s on offer here is extraordinary. Just as modern medicine can also benefit from other healing practices, so too can we from the experiences that other practices have already gone through.


In the excitement or elevated gratitude we have after a treatment – we may share some feedback to the person we’ve sought help from, by text, by voice message, by a photo of our smile. But are they open for use? Perhaps! But do you give the ok to do so? Are you comfortable with that?

If you’re writing an official review via a platform, you’d sensibly imagine that it’s likely to be used, a lot of websites have the drop down boxes where you can explicitly grant permissions, so it’s clear. But some may not – so it’s something to be aware of. This is not about calling people and their practices out, it’s about empowering those who use them and give them to do the right thing.


If you feel you’ve been exploited – you do have rights. If you are unsure whether you can use a comment or comms from a client you probably can’t, because you haven’t sought permission.


Until we see the cross over – it is up to all of us to do the best by ourselves and our clients, or as clients to ensure it’s clear what we are giving permission for – to protect and strengthen these practices for the betterment of all involved. The more strength given to our practices the more empowering it will be – for all of us – client or healer.


To help with how you might like to approach a healer with a clearer guideline of what you’re comfortable with sharing in or outide of a session, or a healer unsure of what’s permissible, there’s a helpful PDF download for you to print, share, post on your healing practice wall or take to your healer and discuss. We can lead the change here, and make it a safer place for excellent healing practice and protect this incredible space we work in and benefit from.

Click….PDF HB Privacy in clinic poster to download our PDF print off for free.

#USTOO – Because we’re all in this together – and we all have the right to feel safe while doing so.