On this question, I have two thoughts. Firstly, The universe/ God gives everyone gifts and talents. People make money from these. If a person is a gifted singer, is that a gift from God and should it be free? If a person is a gifted brick-mason, and builds incredible homes: should it be done with no compensation? I know many people are inclined toward saying that healing is a slightly different situation. I agree with this, but with a caveat: that it is still providing something for another person. In the Andean teachings, everything is grounded on the concept of Ayn:, which is sacred reciprocity. While the word doesn’t have a direct translation it basically means: if you give, you must receive; if you receive, you must give/ return/ exchange. It is the basic law of physics incorporated into cosmology. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. And like the Eastern approaches, ayni works to maintain a sacred balance. No one should be depleted, by their giving. In fact, the core belief is that an individual replenishes themselves BEFORE giving, so as to give from a place of fullness, without depleting themselves in the process.
Secondly: in traditional societies, the community supported and took care of the needs of the healer. The balance was inherent. The unspoken principal was grounded in the belief that it was essential to care for the needs of the healer, since the healer/ shaman looked after the village. This concept was somewhat still in practice even into the early days of western medicine. Often, when a gift of chickens or pie and favours would be granted to the doctor, who often made house-calls. Medicine was still practiced with a high degree of personalisation. Your doctor knew who you were, knew your family history, environmental circumstances and your own medical history. It was a direct and personal relationship. When the doctor helped you, you felt the exchange and were aware of their contribution. As a result, hospitality was offered in return.
This is no longer the situation. People travel to sterile environments and are seen by people who have never met them and do not know their family. The ayni, or reciprocity now takes the form of currency. Is this as potent as direct reciprocity and personal exchange? That is a difficult and tricky question. Many of the healers I know tell stories of clients and patients who will come to them and offer some piece of personal artwork, a drawing etc. It is as though the client feels something over-personal should be given, to honour the healing and personal attention they have received. Often this might be done in lieu of payment, or the client might feel that money is base, impersonal, or crass. What is essential, is that the client have a sense of what will serve the practitioner/healer. There should be agreement. Many healers that I know, struggle financially to varying degrees. I suspect a good part of this is because of these contrasting paradigms.
So to circle back to the question. Should a healer get paid? The healer and client need to have an understanding. There are times I have done something for someone, with a silent nod to the universe, noting the gratis work, and asking the Universe to “balance out” the equation. Sometimes simple gratitude is the payment. Sometimes it is a favour/ barter. And sometimes, more often than not, it is a cash payment. This amount does not always have to equal the “value” of my time. I know practitioners, and many of my teachers, who expect and receive 2-300.00/ per session. They believe that if given away, it is not appreciated. I do not totally buy into that. For some people $10.00 is a LOT of money. Keep that in mind, when working out arrangements. If someone makes 100,000.00/ year.. what is adequate for their ability to pay, and how much value they place on the work. Compare that to someone who makes $15,000.00 year and has several young children.
The key underlying this is to also make sure your own needs are met. Too often healers nurture and give of themselves without respecting their own needs in equal proportion to their patients and clients. That is sacred reciprocity. Healers need to afford themselves the same consideration that they apply to their clients, the same compassion and same fierce spiritual advocacy. Most healers ultimately are givers and nurturers, and are too inclined toward over-understanding and compensating for others. So Healers need to learn to practice the same integrity in their own expectations and boundaries. The healer is neither superior to the community, nor are their skills less essential to the well-being of the whole. As such, the same standards need to apply to the healers, as everyone else. Integrity and Respect, for them and for themselves.