Illuminated Healer vs. Charlatan

Illuminated Healer Vs. Charlatan

By Christina Wilke-Burbach PhD, RMT, CA

I have had several personal experiences this week that have prompted the writing of this blog.  In the 18 years I have been working in the mental health, spirituality, personal growth, and healing fields I have met many healing facilitators. Yes, I prefer to use the word “healing facilitator” instead of healer. I think when you use the word “healer” to describe yourself you disempower your clients and patients and make healing a passive process instead of an active process.  Clients come to you expecting you to wave the magic wand and “poof” make them all better. When in reality, the only one who can truly heal someone is themselves. It is an internal process, not an external one.  Sure, you can massage away someone’s sore muscles, recommend a beneficial blend of herbs and essential oils, balance their chakras, etc. but true healing involves changing your own thought process, engaging coping skills, and modifying your lifestyle and behaviors.

In my 18 years as a teacher, student, healing facilitator, and former frequent flyer at wellness and psychic fairs, I have met hundreds of others in the healing arts. I see two types of healing facilitators; those doing it truly as their life purpose and those who are, as my friend Jennifer-Anne calls it, “Riding the Trend Guru Wannabes.” So I am going to explore these two types of healers, the two sides of the Healer Archetype today, the Illuminated Healer vs. The Charlatan.

First of all, lets define an archetype. The term “archetype” has its origins in ancient Greek. The root words are archein, which means “original or old”; and typos, which means “pattern, model or type.” So literally, an archetype is the original pattern. The psychologist, Carl Jung, used the concept of archetype in his theory of the human psyche.  Archetypes are universal energy patterns and behavior roles that reside in our collective unconsciousness and govern human behavior and motivation. Some spiritual traditions may also call the realm where the archetypes reside, the Akashic Records.  Archetypes are the energies which your soul interacts with to create and form every aspect of our life.  We usually have several dominant archetypes playing out in our life and influencing us. Archetypes are universal through different cultures and languages. When you think of an archetype, you usually can easily conjure up the image and behavior traits of that archetype. For instance, The Warrior. When you think of this energy pattern, what pops into your mind? A man with a shield and sword? Militant, masculine, disciplined?  Ready to defend and protect? Since these energy patterns are collectively inherited unconscious ideas easily accessible in everyone’s psyche, we usually can think of them and bring them clearly into our consciousness. There are hundreds of archetypes. Some examples include Mother, Hero, Child, Student, Teacher, Trickster, and of course, The Healer. Every archetype has two sides, the illuminated/healthy/balanced side and the shadow/dark side.  

The Healer archetype is an old archetype and has existed since the dawn of humanity. Every culture from ancient man to modern times, has the archetype of the Healer, often known as The Shaman or Medicine Man.  Archeological evidence suggests the healer concept is at least 100,000 years old and is ingrained in our primitive primordial collective memories.  In modern culture, the Healer Archetype can consist of nurses and doctors as well as energy workers, herbalists, massage therapists, and yoga teachers. Part of being human is experiencing hurt and pain. Wounds can be emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, and energetic. As long as we experience pain, there will always be someone who feels called to help us heal this pain.  

The Healer Archetype has two sides, the Illuminated Healer and The Charlatan.
The Illuminated Healer: Comes from the heart and higher heart. Feels helping others is their life purpose and passion. Feels they were incarnated into this life time for the higher good of humanity. Empowers their clients to heal themselves. Is genuine, empathetic, compassionate, and sympathetic.

Illuminated healers:

  • Network with other healing facilitators
  • Support other healing facilitators
  • Like working together as a team with their clients and other facilitators
  • Have affordable fees for services and classes
  • Often offer discounts and sliding scale fees
  • Often are engaged in charity work and/or donate and volunteer
  • Are genuinely concerned for their client’s well-being
  • Establish healthy boundaries
  • Don’t believe that healing is a competition
  • Are open to constructive feedback
  • Don’t believe that they are the only one who can help their clients
  • Don’t play God
  • Give others credit when credit is due and doesn’t steal others’ ideas
  • Knows there are enough clients to go around and doesn’t engage in “turf wars”
  • Does not exaggerate their credentials and training
  • Understands that the universe will send to them clients they can best serve
  • Does not create dependent clients…empowers their clients
  • Ask questions and gather more data when they don’t understand something
  • Are not afraid to admit they do not know something
  • Are non-judgmental
  • Understand that we are all here for the same reason, to help light up the world

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Have you felt or heard a call from the divine to facilitate healing in others?
  • Do you truly understand the concepts of Universal Love, Acceptance, and Compassion? Do you practice these concepts?
  • Do you serve all of humanity in some way (donate, volunteer, humanitarian work etc)?
  • Do you have a strong, positive network of business acquaintances?
  • Do you have strong self-esteem and personal boundaries?

The Charlatan/Shadow Healer: Not true of heart. Comes from the lower chakras….power, greed, war. In the healing arts to boost their own ego, become popular and well-known, for personal gain, to take advantage of others, and/or to make money. Psychic vampires. Often have ulterior motives. Attempts to maintain control of the patient, offering advice and treatment based on their needs and ego. They often depend on the client for validation and reinforcement. They promote themselves as someone who can heal others rather than promoting self-healing. Desperate for approval and validation. Often have a real problem with boundaries. “They feel so certain of their ability to help others that they end up being pushy, driving people away from them. With this complete lack of boundaries the Shadow Healer can feel unappreciated, taken advantage of, and just plain abused. At its worst, the Shadow Healer is a self destructive, self-important pretender that has poor self esteem and even poorer boundaries,” (Suzanna Barlow, 2012).

Charlatans/Shadow Healers:

  • Disrespect and talk negatively about other healing facilitators
  • Disrespect and talk negatively about healing modalities they do not utilize
  • Do not understand that there are many roads to wellness and different modalities may work for different people
  • Often have extraordinarily high prices for services, fees, and products
  • Have poor boundaries
  • Gets high on approval from others
  • Loves being on a pedestal and being worshipped
  • Craves Guru status
  • Has external self-esteem and needs others to boost their feelings of self-worth
  • Feel they are in competition with other healing facilitators and teachers
  • Steals other’s ideas and hardwork and passes it off as their own
  • Creates dependency with clients
  • Thinks their way is the only way
  • Is closed-minded
  • Cannot take constructive feedback
  • Over-exaggerates their credentials and training and misleads others
  • Has fake compassion and empathy
  • Thinks they are more gifted and special than others
  • Takes advantage of others
  • Feels superior to others

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I  sometimes feel that I am extraordinary, special or have special gifts that others don’t have?
  • Am I offended when I have helped someone and they don’t thank me or seem appreciative?
  • Do I find I want to take credit for someone else’ healing because I was a part of it?
  • Do others often become dependent on me for support, advice, healing or guidance?
  • Is it difficult to remain humble or invisible when helping another person?
  • Do I tend to have blurry boundaries?
  • Do I get jealous of other people’s ideas, success, and want it for myself?

So, look deep within yourself….are YOU an Illuminated Healer or a Charlatan???? Are you here to help heal the world or further your own agenda?? True personal growth and transformation is shifting from the shadow side of an archetype to the illuminated side.

By identifying and exploring your own archetypal patterns, you come to understand your true self. Becoming aware of what healer archetype you are, Charlatan or Illuminated, and why you do what you do is a great place to start. Ask yourself:
• How long has this archetypal pattern been a part of my life?
• Do I know its origin?
• What role has this archetype played for me?
• What impact has this archetype had on my personal evolution or de-evolution?
• What have I learned about my self? What changes do I need to make?

Remember, introspection is difficult, but rewarding. We all want to be the best we can be in this lifetime. But if you cannot find a way to shift from Shadow Healer to Illuminated Healer than you are definitely not in the right career field….


Christina is a Holistic Health Psychologist, Certified Aromatherapist, Herbalist, wellness consultant, Reiki Master Teacher, ordained minister, light worker, and an Awakening Your Light Body Graduate. Her business is Mind, Soul, and Self LLC. She has a PhD in Health Psychology, a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology, 2 bachelor degrees in Psychology and Cultural Anthropology, and a minor in Sociology. Christina has studied with Stan Grof MD, PhD, co-founder of the field of Transpersonal Psychology. She has presented at academic conferences and has taught hundreds of classes, workshops, and group sessions throughout the Midwest and beyond. She is a published author and award winning researcher and healthcare provider. She was an instructor in the Institute for Intuitive Arts and Sciences in Madison, WI. She combines science with intuition. She strongly believes in empowering others to heal themselves. For more info, please visit: