On any given day, I get emails and comments from readers and clients talking or asking about topics that are covered on this website. Lately I’ve noticed a consistent theme in people telling me about their experiences with healers, psychics and spiritual teachers that have been negative.
I wanted to create an article which can help others to recognize abusive behaviours from anyone who offers intuitive or healing services – primarily because it is something that has impacted me a great deal in the past. I have been abused in this area and more than once. It also seems the more people I hear from about this, it’s not an uncommon thing to heal or resolve a bad experience one has had with a healer (kind of ironic!) And because there is no regulatory body to turn to after a bad or even traumatic experience, you’re on your own.
Recognizing manipulative or unethical behaviours in a psychic, healer or spiritual teacher
It’s obvious to many clients that if a psychic tells you that you’re cursed and you need to pay them $1000 to remove it, it’s likely to be a scam. But what about encounters that are less black and white, but which still leave you in turmoil or upset?
The first thing I wanted to point out in this article is something clients and students can often forget:
The profession of psychic stuff, spiritual teaching and spiritual healing is totally unregulated. No-one holds anyone else accountable. No-one is there to protect you if something goes wrong. If a healer behaves badly, they won’t get struck off a register like they would if they were a psychotherapist. You won’t be able to go to any regulatory body with your complaint. Instead, you might feel a need to resolve it by cutting a cord (I have a couple of cords to abusive healers and teachers and it’s not a bad way to get closure.) Since you are the only one looking out for you in this area, it makes sense to do one’s homework.
Because this field is unregulated, and also because intuitives and healers can wield a lot of influence, it can on occasion attract the kind of person who is on a power trip. It can also attract people who have deep unresolved traumas or emotions that interfere with their ability to treat clients with respect and as equals (i.e. abusive people.) You might be the kind of person who would not take abuse in your relationships, yet with a spiritual teacher or healer, abusive behaviours can knock you for six, because you might be open and vulnerable in your spirituality, and open to hearing from an authority, in a way that you might not be to the same extent in your relationship or friendships.
Again, the abusive ones form a small percentage of the people practising. This article aims to help you avoid those people.
Below are some behaviours which I feel are red flags, in a relationship with a healer, spiritual teacher or psychic. If you’re thinking of working with a new healer or spiritual teacher and you want to be careful (like me) because you don’t want to have a bad experience, the first step is to get a feel for how a person presents themselves in their work. Don’t jump in feet first without knowing someone.
When you look at the person’s website or whatever, if that person has ‘issues’ which will impact on their work with you, you’ll feel it, as you read their book, website or promotional materials. You might not notice these issues consciously, but often you will notice things unconsciously through your intuition. When this happens and something feels a little bit ‘off’, it’s because your unconscious mind has noticed something ‘off’ but your conscious mind hasn’t pinpointed what it is yet. So watch out for a feeling of discomfort even if you can’t explain the reason for it.
Here are four red flags that I have noticed abusive or unethical teachers like to use:
(For purposes of brevity, I’ll call him or her a teacher all throughout this article, but I mean anyone who is either a teacher, psychic or healer, or perhaps all of those at once.)
1. When a teacher tells you that his techniques are better than everyone else’s, and that he has access to wisdom or teachings that no-one else possesses
The truth about this:
There are many good healing techniques out there. Some spiritual teachers or healers have a unique selling point, but most don’t. I have known teachers who believe that their technique is the only one that works for a certain process, such as cord-cutting or energetic clearing. Not true. When you explore and experiment, you’ll find there are so many brilliant techniques out there. This is because everyone has a connection back to Source, and anyone can receive inspiration and come up with a new method.
In addition, no one person has all the answers. No one modality is a ‘one stop shop’. No one teacher can be everything to one client or student. That is a good thing. I can’t imagine how insufferable a person might become, knowing they are the be-all-and-end-all for any group of people!!
2. When a healer invalidates you and challenges your subjective perceptions
Invalidation is when a person tries to brainwash you, telling you that the way you see things is not right. Invalidating seeks to distort or undermine a person’s perceptions of their world. It is an indication of emotional abuse when practised consistently. And it’s a form of emotional abuse that unethical healers use to keep you off kilter and not trusting your perceptions and your gut, because then they have more influence over you and you are more likely to agree with them.
3. When a teacher gives you an ultimatum
In my article ‘The Dark Side of Spirituality’ I talk about the experience I had with an abusive teacher who told me that I had until I was in my thirties to step into my power and ‘fulfil my potential’. If I didn’t, after a certain age, (I think it was 32) God and the angels would abandon me. He also told me that only he could help me stop this from happening.
Other clients I’ve known have been told things like: you’ll never achieve X until you reach perfection or a place of complete healing as a person. It’s not true.
God or Source (or whatever you would like to call it) never abandons us. Spirit doesn’t give us deadlines or ultimatums. If a healer or teacher does, it’s about their control issues.
4. When a teacher allows clients or students to put them on a pedestal
This is a big one for me. I am always suspicious of teachers who claim to be enlightened or perfected beings or those who are comfortable with being put on a pedestal. For me, this is a red flag because it belies a need for adoration or admiration that can interfere with the person’s work.
Some of the craziest and most abusive behaviours that I have heard about have come from self-styled ‘enlightened’ people. This is perhaps because a state of dissociation often looks like enlightenment (in case that is a new term for anyone reading this, dissociation is when a person is psychically or mentally absent from their life, perhaps using alcohol or drugs and sometimes even spiritual pursuits to numb pain or to mentally check out.)
The more checked out a person can be from life, using their escape route of choice, the more this can look like spiritual bliss. But it’s not. It just looks that way for a while.
Those who do not admit to having any faults or allow others to believe that they are somehow superior or more perfected than other people are usually quite dysfunctional for this reason. But people like this who seem to have life all worked out can attract quite a following, because many people are looking for ‘the answer’. Most people look for the answers, but some spiritual people look for THE answer, very often in the form of a guru. The guru is then put on a pedestal and seen as an amazing, enlightened being. This also has something to do with the fact that the teachings the person imparts can seem very evolved and amazing.
What I have personally learned over the last few years in this area is not to equate the teachings with the teacher. I used to automatically think someone is fantastic as a person because they’ve brought forth amazing spiritual teachings into the world. Teachings can be impressive, and make the person seem impressive too, but the issue here is that all teachings come from somewhere and most do not come from the teacher.
Most healing techniques and teachings have a long history of being used. In my opinion, there is very little that is new or original. If you do some research, you’ll be able to track the lineage of most of them. The vast majority of teachers use things they themselves have been taught, and some alter or adapt the teachings somewhat. I used to be taught something and think ‘wow, this teacher is incredible’. Now I myself am teaching, I realise the teachings are not the person, nor do they come directly from the person’s brain in most cases.
As for faults that all human beings have – basically, every kind of human meltdown, crisis, upset, weakness that you or I have ever had, you can guarantee every spiritual teacher also has their own equivalent, no matter how wise, clever or ‘sorted’ they seem. Some are just very good at presenting a front or an image. Sometimes you unconsciously create the image for them, in your own mind.
And the ones who claim to be enlightened are often even more extreme than the rest of us in terms of what they struggle with, but won’t show you.
This isn’t just a theory I have – it’s what I’ve experienced when I’ve been allowed ‘behind the scenes’ and when I have seen who a person really is, behind what they present and teach.
Ultimately the people who have unwittingly chosen abusive teachers along the way on their spiritual path sometimes have mixed feelings about the experience, feeling strangely grateful, because it can teach you a lot and make you much more careful. Such experiences can teach us a lot about discernment and trusting ourselves. But they can be horrible at the time.
Please use the comments section below to share your point of view or your stories. I’ve given four red flags here but I know there are more. I hope someone found this helpful in some way.