By Colleen DeRango, Executive Director
A relational approach
Today we announced the appointment of our Medical Director, Dr Rex Haigh. Meeting with Dr Haigh and his team felt like experiencing ‘goodness of fit.’ His background, knowledge and ability to collaborate was evident in his communication style within his team and between us, exemplifying value and respect for everyone. This is what I enjoy the most about collaborating with other clinicians, psychologists, psychiatrists and general practitioners. In fact I believe it is a critical link for the continuity of care for the well-being of our common clients.
At Khiron House, we know trauma healing treatment, we are trained in this, and it is our passion; and we also know that trauma healing is one component of the broader healing process. Our exchanged phone calls with client’s external clinicians and doctors allows healing to expand and generalize; be it a therapist who wants us to help a client work on a specific traumatic issue prior to returning to their care; or one of our clinicians contacting a psychiatrist to update him or her on their client’s progress; or to schedule an appointment for their client’s medication or symptom review; this collaboration contributes to the overall healing of a client.
Celebrating successes with clients in-common
In a past phone call with a client’s referring clinician, I shared a client’s breakthrough experienced in a Somatic Experiencing session. She shared her exhilaration for the breakthrough of her client’s ability to ‘un-couple’ three emotions that were fused together from the client’s unresolved traumatic past. She shared that this would lay the foundation for the client’s follow-on work with her around her relationship issues. I told her how much I enjoyed sharing these peak moments with her, as she too was someone who cared deeply for the client’s well-being.
Another experience I valued was interrupting the common cycle of staff-splitting for clients diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder by ensuring that all clinical, medical and psychological professionals were in agreement with the proposed treatment for a client. Presenting with a united front, and agreeing upon the timing, methodology and treatment plan for a client sets the container for healing to be maximized. Sometimes declining to admit a client to support their continued treatment with their current practitioner and treatment program sends a strong message of ‘continue as you are doing, as you are on a good, strong path’, allowing for the client to work through challenges that are perhaps being deflected.
Sometimes our clinicians need an external opinion, thought, or insight from a doctor, psychologist, or clinician who has a long-standing relationship with our common client. It can be invaluable to learn about a piece of history which we sense we are missing, or a medical issue that we need more background on to better support the client, or to discuss complex symptoms which an external professional could provide insight. Knowing what we know, knowing what we don’t know, and being willing to seek counsel on the difference can sometimes be the turning point in making profound life changing shifts for a client on their healing journey. At Khiron House, I fully support seeking counsel as an act of ego-strength, not weakness. There are gifted professionals in the UK community, and to benefit from their knowledge helps everyone.
In my coming from The Meadows, a world renown trauma and addiction treatment centre in the USA, it was continually brought to our clinical team’s attention the dramatic and damaging impact that shame has on an individual and their nervous system; and reinforced the value of implementing shame reduction methodologies for those struggling with disorders, addictions and trauma. By collaborating with a professional team of health care clinicians, validation is given to our common clients that ‘you are not in this alone, you are of value, you are a worthwhile human being, and you are someone who we are both willing and want to support in the best way we can so you can move on and live your life; versus lose yourself to it.’ I have learned that this is perhaps one of the strongest messages we can give.
One part of our Medical Director, Dr. Haigh’s statement when he received his national award for Outstanding Contribution to Sustainability Psychiatric Team of the Year was: ”Sustainability is about connecting people to each other and to nature”; and my sense is that this may be the thread of gold woven throughout collaboration, both in substance and in modelling this to clients.
I recently pondered that perhaps the expansion of healing happens not only as a result of the fluid collaboration with one another and nature, but as a result of the connection itself.
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