Truthfulness: The First Value of the SEEK Safely Promise

First value of the Seek Safely Promise calls for self-help professionals to be TRUTHFUL:

1. Truthful.  Consumers will receive accurate information about the author’s, leader’s or speaker’s professional degrees, credentials and experience.

As we have rolled out the Promise and shared it with self-help professionals and self-help seekers, we’ve gotten many questions about this concept. Are we saying that a self-help “guru” has to be extremely well-educated, with multiple degrees, in ordered to be considered legit? Quite simply, NO.

Old books

You don’t have to be book smart to be a good leader. Copyright by Moyan Brenn.

In fact, we recognize that many people in the self-help industry are, by the nature of their profession, not going to have gone through a traditional, mainstream education. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The purpose of this value is that we want self-help practitioners to be honest with their customers about their background, and honest with themselves about their capabilities. There are many popular theraputic techniques that do require training and licensing to use. If these techniques are going to be part of the curriculum at a self-help event, the seekers have a right to expect that the guru is qualified in these techniques. Gurus need to be honest and open about their credentials. For example, just as a person who isn’t trained and licensed as a surgeon wouldn’t preform surgery, a self-help guru who does not have a background in psychology should not be counselling people at his/her events. When Kirby attended the Spiritual Warrior retreat in Sedona in October 2009, the “sweat lodge” that took her life was the culminating event of the retreat. James Ray led participants to believe that he was qualified to lead a sweat lodge, but we have since learned that his “sweat lodge” was a perversion of the actual Native American ritual. Hot Rocks At Spiritual Warrior, Ray billed the sweat lodge as a test of endurance. But in fact, the sweat lodge is meant to be a purifying and healing ritual. The Spiritual Warrior retreat cost over $10,000. While donations or offerings are common in a true sweat lodge, Native Americans would never charge money for a sweat lodge, as participants may then feel compelled to “get their money’s worth” and push themselves beyond their physical boundaries. And perhaps most importantly, the leader of a traditional Native American sweat lodge undergoes extensive (as in, years) training and apprenticeship to be qualified to lead a sweat. This isn’t formal, institutional training that results in a degree, but it’s equally important to ensure that the leader is highly experienced before people entrust their lives to him. Ray had no such training. *** The purpose of the Promise is twofold: we want self-help professionals to be upfront and keep the safety of  seekers foremost, and we want seekers to consider questions they should ask to keep themselves safe. A leader who is truthful doesn’t need to have a Ph.D., but he does need to be transparent about the experiences and training that qualify him to give seeker the experience he has promised them. Seekers have a right to expect that openness, and a right to receive honest answers if they question their leader. To self-help professionals: Will you be honest and open about your credentials and qualifications? Sign the Promise now. To self-help seekers: Do you know if your leader is qualified to give you the experience he or she is promising? Encourage your gurus to sign onto the Promise today!

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