sound is a familiar one. I have heard it at my primary care physician’s office,
my gynecologist’s office, my
pediatrician, the mammographer, and the ultra sound tech room, two quick knocks
and then an entrance. Whoever follows that knock brings with them several
things. Among those items is usually a sense of respect, knowledge, authority,
news, caring, sometimes curing, and always a sense of privilege. They belong
there, it is their space and I wait for them to share with me what they know.
who am I to be on the other side of the door? Could I be a "knocker"?
are two of the questions that I battled with as I entered into my first integrated
care internship. I was told to check the sheets for patient information, go
into the room, and introduce myself and my services. But this would require me,
very quickly, to become confident in not only my role in the healthcare agency,
but also in myself. I would have to be the one on the other side of the door.
You know, the one with the "respect, knowledge, authority, news, caring…etc.”
Who? Me? |
go ahead, knock. Knock respectfully, kindly, and firmly, but knock.
amazed at the doors that open."
medical family therapists, we have battled for acceptance as a valid and worthy
and reimbursable service. Our western culture has long appreciated the
seemingly solid science of medicine, but it has shied away from fully endorsing
the impact of the psychological, social, and spiritual impact on our physical health.
This disparity can leave the burgeoning medical family therapist feeling
somewhat timid as he/she enters into a medical context. But this disparity must
be overcome and must be overcome within the provider him/herself.
medical family therapists are going to be successful in a medical context, we
must grow in our confidence in ourselves and in the services we offer. While
this probably comes naturally to those who have been practicing for longer, in
students it may show itself in two ways. It may manifest in an intern with an
overly-confident demeanor or an intern who is so hesitant that they think their
services are an intrusion into the patient’s "normal visit.” We must learn to
strike a balance between confidence in our services and place in the medical
setting, while remembering one of the core components of family therapy,
humility in what our patients and their families can teach us.
balance is rooted not only in our belief in what our profession and services
have to offer, but also a belief in ourselves. As individual providers, we must
work to be as self aware as possible in who we are and any issues that might be
hindering our ability to gently assume our place within the medical system. We
must believe in ourselves that we can carry out what our mentors and professors
have taught us about our profession and role in the healthcare industry. And as
is true for so many things in the therapy world, this is isomorphic to the
patients and families we work with. As we embrace the value in our work and in
ourselves, we will likely impart that belief to our clients and the other
providers with whom we collaborate. Perhaps they will learn that they too are
go ahead, knock. Knock respectfully, kindly, and firmly, but knock. You’ll be
amazed at the doors that open.
Lisa Tyndall is
employed as the Clinic Director for the East Carolina University
(ECU)Family Therapy Clinic in Greenville, NC. She has her license in
Marriage and Family Therapy, and received her doctorate in Medical Family
Therapy where herdissertation research focused on developing a consensus
definition of MedFT. She is the beaming mother of two fantastic young boys and
adoring wife to her husband, Richard, of almost 13 years.