Recognizing boundaries between yoga and psychotherapy

A reader adds perspective to the physical vs philosophical value of yoga, so be sure to read the comment.

Dan Charnas has a good article in Yoga Journal where he advises yoga instructors against crossing the line between a physical workout and psychological counseling.

It’s useful for students to consider and applies to other disciplines as well.

Excerpts here.
Mr. Charnas says, “In classes where our students come to heal both physical and emotional wounds, they may turn to us for advice — not on postures, but about relationships, hardships, moral and ethical questions, and more. Many of us are unprepared for that kind of connection and responsibility. How do we navigate the fluid boundary between teacher and therapist?”

“Unless we’re trained therapists, we’re not therapists,” says Mr. Martin, a Thai Yoga teacher-trainer in Canada. “There would be huge liability issues in Canada if I were to go and counsel someone.”

So how do you know where the line is? According to Mr. Martin: “As soon as I’m doing anything other than active listening, I’ve crossed it. As soon as I give them advice.”

“I don’t think it’s your responsibility to fix people once they recognize they have a problem,” he continues, “But you shouldn’t just abandon them.

Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, who is the founder of Golden Bridge Yoga and a teacher of Kundalini Yoga for more than three decades recommends networking to find the best healers in the community. “You’ve got to have a grab bag of people, assemble a panel of professionals to whom you can refer your students. That way, when problems arise that are out of your league, you won’t leave your students out in the cold.

Good advice of instructors. For students, don’t expect yoga instructors to be a well-toned incarnation of the yellow pages.

1/24/07 19:36 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.