When working with graduate interns or new clinicians in supervision they often express confusion over who they are or who they will be as they begin their careers. There is often so much overthinking that some of them become frozen or stagnant not only in their personal lives but professionally as well. What IS a clinician? The simple truth is that there is no one cogent description of what a clinician is in Toto. Sure, we can define the educational, experiential and credentialing requirements as well as the traits that are often found, but there are so many other things that flavor a clinician’s praxis as to make it nearly impossible to capture their entire essence or flavor.
Besides being dynamic, clinicians are multifaceted and that’s what helps make them effective. Our clients come from many different environs and no clinician will meet the needs of them all, that’s why a strong referral network can be one of the best tools that we have.
What a clinician does on their off time can have a very positive impact on their work as it offers insights that cannot be found in a text book. It can also make you more relatable. What is a clinician? A clinician is an amalgamation of everything they do, learn, believe and enjoy. Don’t try to hide it. Embrace who you are.
Years ago I was contacted by a corporation that had just experienced an on the job death; many employees saw a fellow welder fall to his death. I was warned that the group was very suspicious of outsiders and not to take it too personally if I was shunned for trying to do my job. “No problem, I know how welders can be, I’m a certified welder myself; stick and MIG (Arc and Metal Inert Gas welding). I didn’t care much for TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas welding) when I was in training as it has limited application to structural welding.” Was my reply. The corporate rep was amazed before stating that she knew she had found the right Doc for the job.
As I debriefed and assessed the workers as well as supplied triage care, word got around that I was “one of us” and they spoke more and more freely. Sure, some challenged my knowledge of their craft at first, so this was not something to fake, but once they saw that I knew the craft, one by one they opened up. Nowhere in the credentialing process of the USA or Canada does it require welding or a host of other skills, but the more that you know, the broader your skill set and ability to reach those that are often resistant to treatment.
A clinician with broad interests can have an easier time breaking the ice than does one that simply knows their trade. Grab a book, or truck load of books to be sure but also grab a tool, instrument or other device. Explore many many different types of activities. The broader your background the more relatable you can be.
Don’t define yourself by outside interests; I am not advocating pushing your beliefs or hobbies on others but knowing a bit about a lot of differing things can make you more relatable or at the very least help you better explore leisure, work or educational pursuits with your clients that may be looking for something new or something more. Be who you are, share what you know when it will help. Our clients are counting on us.
”Doc Warren” Corson III is a counselor, educator, writer and the founder, developer, clinical & executive director of Community Counseling of Central CT Inc. (www.docwarren.org) and Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm (www.pillwillop.org). He can be contacted at [email protected]
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA