In using this approach several elements are important:
First is you, the patient seeking help. You have some of the most important information there is, knowledge of yourself. You have knowledge of how it is, how you function when things are going well along with knowledge of how you function when things are not going well. Learning to share this knowledge is vital to improving how we function in daily living.
Second is linking this knowledge with the expertise (professional knowledge) of the caregiver or… in the case of the psychology here at Goshawk, the care sharer. That is because the two areas of knowledge, the patients’ and the provider’s, need to be linked together to help the patient develop both increased self knowledge of themselves, specific knowledge of their symptoms, the basis for those symptoms and how they can influence a life. With this new knowledge the possibility exists for the patient to develop and use, based on their own strengths, new methods and ways of living to deal with their symptoms and discomforts. This does not mean that discomforts are going to go away, just that it may be possible to learn to deal with them in a way that makes daily life more tolerable and comfortable.
The potential success of the second steps often depends on the third area. In the third area a vital life skill can be developed and built upon if steady and consistent effort is used by the patient. This is the building of trust with another human being. This is important because, when any of us are not feeling well or are feeling somewhat overwhelmed by life a common human trait comes into play… we tend to isolate ourselves. Isolating ourselves separates us from support of all types, it separates us from information we need to help ourselves ( don’t be fooled, the Internet or social media is not a substitute for real 1:1 contact!), and oftentimes isolation separates us from our own self knowledge, knowledge needed to help us overcome our difficulties. This pattern is commonly labeled depression. Joining with another helps us gain confidence in our abilities to deal with whatever is not now working well for us or, what we may be anticipating won’t work well in the future. Learning to take the risk of facing another with our hurts, fears, and vulnerabilities ultimately builds both self knowledge and strength of character.
As we gain knowledge of our own strengths this begins to give us tools to use to deal with our problems and symptoms in daily living. This then becomes the fourth step in the progression to higher quality living. When we have greater self knowledge, knowledge that is shared and accepted by another human being, it often follows that an improved sense of self confidence follows- a greater sense of having an ability to have some positive influence over what is happening to me. This awareness is important as it translates over into many areas of life functioning that most of us typically do not think about because the actions have become automatic ( such as walking or driving). Having this awareness also permits an individual to enter into other support relationships, such as with their primary care/family doctors on a more confident footing and thus to develop a more balanced team work type of approach to their medical care. Numerous studies conducted by both universities and insurance companies continue to give evidence that this type of interaction leads to reduced symptoms for patients and costs to individuals and societies.
This is the essence of Patient Centered Care. If the need exists, I hope you can join us for a constructive journey.
Dr. Paul D. Winkler, PsyD.