Albany Democrat Herald Lifestyles: Sunday Profile Sunday, October 17, 2004
This registered nurse uses holistic approaches to healing
By Cathy Ingalls
Jefferson---At age 10, Toni Gilbert set up a hospital where floundering bugs she’d plucked from mud puddles could dry their wings on beds of toilet paper, recover and then fly away.
“I was practicing healing even back then,” said Gilbert now 57. “I think I’ve always been a nurse, and I consider a nurse anyone who wants to care for others.”
For years, Gilbert treated patients in traditional medical settings. But after 13 years, that type of nursing no longer appealed to or satisfied her. She knew there were different avenues she could take to heal people.
“I had to be myself, and I couldn’t do that in an institution,” Gilbert said.
She wanted to explore holistic healing, which consists of treating the mind, body and spirit together. Traditional medicine, for the most part, concentrates its efforts only on healing the body.
Gilbert believes that patients are better off in the long run if all aspects of a person’s life are in harmony. What’s in the mind affects the body and spirit. If people learn to become more self-aware, “they will become happier people, healed and more satisfied with themselves,” she said.
Initially, Gilbert used meditation and guided imagery to assist clients who were ill, had physical injuries, suffered from anxiety and stress, or were facing difficult life situations, including aging, relationships and career situations.
Now she incorporates meditation and guided imagery with therapeutic touch and dream interpretation as well as Tarot cards to enhance wellness and prevent illness.
Gilbert is quick to say the cards are not used to predict the future. “The cards’ imagery can be used to accurately reflect a client’s present state of mind, she said.
“I use Tarot cards like the Rorschach Projective technique in which inkblots are used to simulate the creative imagination to make associations,” she said. “In combination with transpersonal counseling, Tarot cards can accurately uncover a client’s concerns.”
Gilbert is proud to say after years of persistent effort, the American Holistic Nurses Association has approved her course, Archetypal Tarot Counseling (sm). That means the national organization will give continuing education credits to nurses who complete Gilbert’s year long training.
Gilbert has written her first book, “Messages from the Archetypes,” which is used as a textbook for the course. She has undertaken another project as well. Gilbert is the founding editor of the Alternative Journal of Nursing, an on-line holistic nursing journal. Gilbert publishes articles from holistic nurses and other professionals who offer insights into new ways to provide health care.
With all of the work Gilbert has undertaken, she has had to cut back in the number of clients that she sees in her Jefferson home. She said she visits with about four clients a month.
Gilbert tries to show others it is fun to open the mind to new ways of learning, which leads to self discovery. “It is not scary,” she said. “The need for healing brings us a unique opportunity to learn about ourselves. Most of us could use help with our mental, physical and spiritual health. Maintaining good health is all about learning to tune into ourselves and being open to our potential. “Disease occurs when we spend too much time focusing our attention on what is wrong with us,” she said.