When I received the invitation to participate in RCCM seminar on strategy from our Chair I remember accepting immediately. The event was scheduled a few months ahead, and it felt like I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this for years! When we hear words like ‘strategy’ or ‘research’ usually people think of businesses, business plans, money or the cold scientific world out there. As therapists in complementary therapies these terms are just naturally not the first ones that come to mind. We do what we do primarily because we have established long ago – for many of us since we were very young- that it is our call, our vocation ‘to help others’ in an experiential way. So, to think ‘strategy’ ‘research’ and moreover to acknowledge their value and significance when your inner belief system tells you something else will most probably give birth to cognitive dissonance and this is not easy to live with.
One of the most valuable things that I took away from the seminar was that having a strategy and developing a research strategy within our organisations and practices does not take away that individuality or dilute the way we do things, but on the contrary will give the complementary therapies the opportunity to align their extraordinary contributions to human wellbeing with the bigger body of traditional medicine and finally take its well-deserved place on the national therapeutic stage.
This stage is very large, and it can feel discouraging and daunting having to compete with all the other established therapies backed by decades of solid evidence and a national health system, but the changes we have witnessed in the last couple of years and especially since the pandemic, showed us that it is not about competing with the ‘Other’. We live in times we can easily call ‘emergency times’ yet, inside emergency there is the word ‘emerge’, coming out of danger into opportunity and working alongside each other, enriching our clients’ experience and at the same time disseminating our vision and potency in a clear, convincing and evidenced way.
Why strategy and why research strategy? In simple words because it is the fastest and most reliable way, not only to create change, because change is created with every single person we help through our work, but to affect change at a macrolevel, beyond the influence we can have on our families, friends, peers, and clients. Being influential at a macrolevel means reaching those organisations and policy makers who have the power of translating visions and research into practices accepted and implemented nationally. Why now? There have never been more propitious and conducive to change times as the ones we live in now, because there has never been a greater need for science to hold hands with her sister – complementary therapy – and balance the load of work to be carried together. For this to happen naturally and successfully, applying the principles of a good research strategy also means taking the path that was most travelled before us and that will give us a voice and a seat at the decisions table.
Mia Pal – BAThH