A report on using flower essence therapy as part of a family-oriented, community-based social service program
by flower essence practitioner Denise Paillaud
The path to finding Acortar Distancias
Eight years ago, I met a practitioner who introduced me to the magnificent method of healing human emotions with flower essences. I began taking remedies at the same time I was involved in therapy. The combination was the key to healing my own emotions and gaining a new perspective of life. I went to a doctor looking for help because I wanted to handle my problem with infertility and there I had my first encounter with the essences.
After the passage of three years, I began to wonder how I could share all the new ideas I had learned during this period of my life.
I had always planned to try to help people with fewer opportunities than I had; I had good memories of performing community work during my years as a university student. It dawned on me: ‘This is my chance!’ So I began to study the Bach flower remedies.
My studies went well and then I finally found the place with which to work: Acortar Distancias (AD). I went to see the administrator, Magdalena Isabel Merino Govela to ask her if I could work there as a community service person providing flower remedies to those in need. She said “Yes, you can, I believe in alternative medicine.” I was very happy to have this opportunity to work with young people. As soon as I began working with them, I became aware of how much I was learning from the “richness” of people who have much less than the minimum with which to live.
Ever since I began my work there, I’ve been thrilled with the responses of the people to the flower remedies, especially those of the children.
In 2005, I attended the FES Practitioner Training Course so I could study in a profound way the California remedies as I had studied the Bach flowers. At the time I started working with AD I was already using both the California and Bach remedies.
After the FES training, I began studying Gestalt psychotherapy as a complement to my work. I felt the need to do so because I saw that there are very many problems and issues to be addressed for each person and with more tools it would be easier to do professional work.
People hear about me and then come to my house for flower remedy sessions. Many of them are consistent with taking their drops and some of them quit, but overall I’m pleased with the results of my practice.
When I first began searching for an organization with which to work, I visited many places. Some of them were public hospitals and public shelters and in most cases, there were people without hope. However, I wanted to work with young people who want to have a better life and opportunities, so that is why I continued to search until I found AD.
AD teaches people “how to catch the fish, not just give them fish.” They strive to shorten distances between wealth and poverty by providing projects in which people have to work to earn their opportunities. For example, if they want to get help in building a house, they will be given the bricks and other building materials but they have to build it themselves, show their personal commitment with deadlines for completing the work.
AD wants to promote children and teenagers who live in extreme poverty in order to have a better way of life.
There are many activities sponsored by AD in the areas of education, health, legal and housing.
Each semester AD picks 30 families from the neighborhood and begins to advise them. Here is an example of a legal issue: if a couple is not legally married, help is provided to them to do so. The same is done to help a family obtain the birth certificates for their children. If someone is sent to jail without being guilty, they provide them with a lawyer to help. The families pay only a small amount of money for all these types of services.
I work in the Health Division of AD:
We try to cover basic needs including—
I usually go to the AD Community Center on Friday mornings and stay there for 3 or 4 hours, depending on how many people are there waiting for services. Sometimes there are 10 to 15 people, mostly women and children. Because of the schedule (regular working days of the week) few men come for services. During summer holidays there are less people because women are busier with their children at home.
AD charges the families a nominal monthly fee to receive all the services mentioned. The amount is approximately $15 per month for the whole family, no matter how often they require any type of service provided by AD.
When I meet with a person for the first time, I try to introduce her or him to the flower remedies. I show them photos of the flowers and tell them that these remedies come from nature and it is a way in which Mother Nature helps us to harmonize or reconcile our emotions or deep feelings. This enables us to integrate our own emotions, feelings and thoughts in such a way that we can handle our lives in an easier manner.
Also, I tell them that this is a new path for discovering themselves in a deeper way. I use the comparison with a musical instrument: when we are born, we are like a new guitar; we sound perfectly tuned. But as life goes on, there are many events that cause us to lose our “tuning” and we begin making music that is not good. I tell them, “This is why flower essences therapy is here to help us—to get in tune again."
Following are some statistics from the past two years of work at AD (July 2004 to July 2006):
First visit consulting: 223 persons
Total consulting: 385
Follow-up consulting: 65 persons
Follow-up consulting on first semester 2006: 32 persons
My experience shows that initially I see many more people than those who return for more treatment (29.14%). These people return to see me because they felt something different about themselves. They are very consistent, and want to continue to experience the flower remedies and help they provide for them.
When first coming to see me, many people are experiencing some kind of emotional crisis and because of that they are asking for help; they tend to be open to experiencing new ways of doing things.
Many people come for a session for the first time because they want to try something new but they never come back (70.86%). Some of these cases are people who are not ready to “see” the problems they really have or the possible results. Others just do not have the necessary commitment to follow the therapeutic process. However even in such cases, I can’t really say the flowers didn’t work for them or the person didn’t feel an effect. I had two cases in particular that after a year, the women came back saying that they wished to feel again the way they felt taking the drops; the flower essences helped them.
In general, it is difficult for me to establish a percentage of positive results from using essences but I would say that when a person commits to using the essences, more often than not I see changes in 95% of these cases.
Sometimes a client doesn’t see what I see about them; it is easier to have a perspective from an “outside position.” As I become more trained in Gestalt therapy, I’m learning to accompany them in their own process of becoming aware of themselves. It is now more possible for me to accompany them in their self-discovery process in a more professional manner. I truly enjoy working with them to become clearer about their own goals, likes/dislikes, feelings, thoughts and ways of doing things. All this work is truly creative and this is what I most enjoy about it.
The issues for which I suggest essences vary. The range of people is so wide that there are many different cases to work with. More common issues are depression, anguish, anxiety, frustration, anger, sexual abuse, homosexuality, authority abuse, maltreatment, lack of love from others (I have met some people who were treated like animals, i.e., tied to a tree for hours), etc.
I work with many issues, but it is amazing to me how the same issues often come in pairs of people, or sometimes three or more on the same day. For example, a person comes in and the main issue is anger caused by a rapist father. After the person leaves, another person comes with a similar situation. This has happened to me many times and even though the main issue is the same (a beating husband, a spouse soon-to-be working far away from home, deep sadness) working with each person is very different. One person decides to cope by being with angry, while others feel instead depression, guilt, remorse or whatever they need to heal as a first step in their process.
From my personal experience, I believe flower essences are tools that come from Mother Nature to make easier my own inner process. If I take flower essences in a conscious manner they will help me to do my work in a deeper way in order to heal my emotions, and they will lead me to a state of homeostasis. I do believe that flower essences exist for a reason; they have a message for each person but it has to be discovered with inner work, hope and with pleasure.
A woman Anita, who works at AD as a cleaning person has two children. Her boy (12-years old) lives with her grandmother in the house next to Anita’s house. Her daughter (5-years old) tells her that she can’t stand her mother any more because she is always hysterical, has no patience and shouts at her often.
Anita has been working at AD for a year; I met her last year when she came to see me because she was, in her own words, “hysterical, impatient, and aggressive with my daughter" and she was experiencing anguish. She spoke very fast, with her face expressing all her anguish and completely covered with perspiration. Her hands moved very fast and she had a tissue she was playing with continuously.
I gave her: Vine, Holly, Sweet Chestnut, Impatiens and Scleranthus. (June, 2005)
After this first encounter with her I started a Communication Workshop at AD based on the book: “How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk.” She came to the first session and just during the middle of it when talking about the necessity to express ourselves without shouting or offending people, she started crying and left the class. I asked her if she needed anything and she just said “no,” and ran away. (September 2005).
She never came back to the class or to sessions with me; I respected her decisions.
It was not until May 26, 2006 that she returned to flower essence therapy; she spoke abruptly, feeling anguish again but this time she was completely hopeless; she talked about two times when she “lost her body,” and felt she was outside of herself just looking at what she was doing. One time she was with her children at the supermarket but she didn’t remember she had a daughter or a son, and she started walking out without them. But the children ran to her saying, “Mother what is wrong with you?” After a while she began to remember everything, but she told me she was frightened about these blocks. The other event was similar to this one and the two events had worried her in such a way that didn’t let her rest when she tried to sleep at night.
I told her that I could give her some drops but that I couldn’t see her again unless she asked AD for more help from the psychologist or psychiatrist. I felt these two incidents were too important not to take into account. On this second occasion I gave her Rescue Remedy, Sweet Chestnut and White Chestnut. (She was obsessive in regard to the two events, also desperate, and was in a kind of state of shock.) She was to take 4 drops every 2 hours.
Before the next session, I called the person in charge of Psychology and asked if they could schedule an appointment for this woman to make an evaluation and to provide her with therapy.
Thus, after more than a month on June 9, 2006, she came back with a completely different face; she was calm, relaxed and smiling. Her movements and expressions were completely different. She told me she was happy because she didn’t feel that anguish any more and she saw that sharing her problems wasn’t so bad after all. Instead, she learned that it was better to have someone to talk to than have the problems in her head all day long torturing her and not letting her live a life in a different way other than suffering because of them. She spoke very fluently, so I asked her if she had gone to psychological therapy and she said “yes, I went once to see a therapist at AD.”
I gave her the same drops as the last time to reinforce the effects on her, and told her not to abandon the psychological help and she told me this:
“I won't leave flower medicine or psychological help as long as I can come to AD, my life has changed and I’m sharing what has happened to me with my coworkers; I want them to know how helpful this medicine and therapy have been to me.”
At the third consultation July 21, 2006, she was still calm and with a smiling face she told me that a spider stung her so I prepared a gel for her. On this occasion she answered a Flower Essence Case Evaluation for me and here are some relevant answers:
In what areas do the essences seem to have been helpful?
Discuss dreams or other inner experiences you had while taking the essences:
“I had no dreams, instead of it, I slept well, I didn’t think while I was trying to sleep and I was relaxed.”
Have others noted differences in your emotions or behavior?
“Oh yes, my husband told me that I look different—relaxed, and I shouted less at my little girl.”
“My mother also tells me that I’m different.”
“My little girl tells me, “Mother, because you are not shouting at me or acting hysterical as before, I’m going to sing you a song.”
Are you continuing to take the flower essences at this time?
“Yes and I will as long as I can come to AD.”
I believe this is a person who needed a change in her life; she couldn’t stand the way it was before but she needed to find a different way of doing things. She was desperate and hysterical. During the communication course she heard that there were different ways to handle relationships but maybe it wasn’t the right timing for her.
After a time while the situation worsened at home, her inner crisis increased and became larger and larger, and it was something that bothered her very much.
That was when she finally decided to ask for help: I had been at AD for 3 hours and was about to leave when she came and said, “Denise, I want to talk to you.” I said, “Okay, I have 10 more minutes, does that work for you? She said “Yes” and she talked and talked for an hour. When we were finishing up, she told me that she felt bad because she told me secrets about her family. I explained to her that it was a confidential therapeutic process and that it was necessary to heal her emotions; she understood that well.
I have discovered as an interesting issue the fact that people feel loneliness deep in their hearts and they are not used to trusting their problems to anyone but family members. But if the problems are in the family (as is true most of the time) they don’t have anyone to talk to or to entrust. Therefore, they carry all their problems on their own and begin to feel symptoms in their bodies; that is the beginning of an illness.
Sometimes they don’t comprehend just what the problem is, and they have an illness that tries to tell them a message.
This relationship between body, soul and emotions is a mystery to me but I know that the person has to be treated as a whole, not just as a body or as an illness. That is exactly what I like the most about flower essences; they look to the person as a whole, complex expression of a human being.
Denise attended Universidad Panamericana, earning her degree in Financial Administration. Soon thereafter, she got married and also began to attend various classes including painting courses. She attended the 2005 FES Practitioner Training Course at Lake Tahoe. Denise has had her own jewelry business since 1988.
If you liked this report, you might wish to read:
Honoring Dr. Edward Bach: a new unfolding of his work; by Jann Garitty based on a report by Rosana Vieira
Working with Flower Essence Therapy in Chile: A Report by Teresita Espinoza Woters
Working with Handicapped Students in India
Using Flower Essences in Villa el Salvador, Lima, Peru by Jann Garitty based on reports from Ellen Turgasen, Dr. Carlos Hilares and Consuelo Rios
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