The provider’s body in the therapeutic relationship: How complementary and alternative medicine providers describe their work as healers


Author/Creator ORCID





Citation of Original Publication

Agarwal, V. (2018). The Provider’s Body in the Therapeutic Relationship: How Complementary and Alternative Medicine Providers Describe Their Work as Healers. Health Communication, 1-9.



Although the body is central to health outcomes, the provider’s body has been largely absent in the provider–patient relationship. Drawing upon semi-structured interviews with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) providers (N = 17), this study examines how CAM providers use their body to characterize their work as healers. The findings suggest the provider’s self-reflexive awareness of their own body’s illness and faith experiences informs their understanding of the patients’ experience of health and disease. The study foregrounds the intersubjective nature of the provider–patient relationship as an embodied interaction in the mutual construction of therapeutic goals. Provider reflection on their own bodies to make sense of their patients’ experiences emphasizes provider–patient coproduction of meaning and suggests ways for including the provider’s self-reflexive awareness of their own body in a patient-centered healthcare relationship in ways that benefit both the patient and the provider.