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Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
December, 2015, Vol. 15, Issue 12
Facilitating a Coaching Conversation
By Ben Benjamin, PhD
In previous articles, I've made the argument that in many instances, it's less useful to give a client advice than to provide coaching that helps them discover their own solutions.Here, I'm going to discuss one particular circumstance in which advice-giving is both very tempting and potentially very risky: responding to a client who's facing a major decision and asks you directly what you think they should do. The decision may be closely related to the work you're doing with them (e.g., deciding whether to give up a sport in which they've sustained multiple injuries), or it may have little or no connection (e.g., deciding to start or end a personal or professional relationship).
It's often hard to know what to say in such situations. For decisions that are very personal or far outside your scope of work (such as whether to file for divorce or make a risky investment), an outside referral (to a psychotherapist, financial consultant, or other professional) is probably in order. But in other cases, simply advising the person to speak to someone else may feel inadequate. Suppose the person is considering quitting their job. They've talked to you repeatedly about how much stress they experience at work, and it seems to be contributing to extreme muscle tension and chronic headaches. When the client says, "Tell me honestly — what do you think I should do?" What's the best response?
On the one hand, you probably care about the client's well-being and want to encourage them to reduce the stress in their life. You also don't want to be evasive or hold back the truth of what you think. So it may be tempting to say, "Absolutely, I think you should do it."
On the other hand, you don't know all the details of the situation and you're not a counselor (although clients with strong transference may treat you as though you were). Furthermore, this decision is so significant that it really needs to be driven by the client's own values, judgments, preferences, and desires. When people base critical life choices on the recommendations of external authorities — whether it's a massage therapist, psychotherapist, religious leader, boss, elder family member, or self-help guru — they don't get the opportunity to learn from their own mistakes and successes. That type of learning is critical for developing a strong internal compass, sense of competence, and capacity for making better decisions in the future.
Answering a direct request for decision-making advice isn't necessarily unethical, and it may even be the right thing to do in certain circumstances (for example, in a case of physical abuse). However, many times, you can do more good by having a coaching conversation instead. I've talked about coaching in general as incorporating several key guidelines: get permission for having the discussion; inquire and reflect more than you advocate; remain curious; and focus on solutions, rather than problems. There's one specific approach that I've found to be particularly helpful when coaching a client attempting to make a decision, especially when that decision involves just two or three clearly defined alternatives (such as taking an action vs. doing nothing). It can help the person to see aspects of a complex issue that they've overlooked, which — in combination with skillful questioning and reflection — often enables them to discover a creative, satisfying resolution. What follows is an example of how you might describe this method to a client and then put it into practice.
Client: "Tell me honestly — what do you think I should do? Should I quit my job or not?"
Therapist: "That's a hard question. This is a big decision, and I don't know enough to say what's going to be best for you. I do know of a decision-making method that's often useful in this kind of situation, and I'd be happy to walk you through it to help you get clearer on what you really want. Would that be helpful, or no?"
Client: "I was hoping you'd just tell me what to do! But okay, sure, we can try that method."
Therapist: "Okay, great. What I'll invite you to do is to first spend some time thinking about all the advantages of leaving your job. Focus just on the positives — on how that makes sense and could improve your life. Then you'll switch and instead consider all the advantages of staying in your job. Do you want to give this a try?"
Therapist: "Okay, so what's good about the idea of leaving your job?"
Client: "At the moment, everything about leaving seems good! I'm so exhausted and burnt out. I think if I got out of this situation, I'd be a lot happier and more relaxed."
Therapist: "Anything else that would be good?"
Client: "I'd have more time with my kids. My oldest will be going off to college next year, and I want to be more present for her while she's still here. Of course, I can't go without an income forever. I can't be unemployed six months from now. So maybe this is a really irresponsible idea, and I should just stay where I am."
Therapist: "So now you're getting into the downsides of leaving your job. Before we go there, is there anything else that's positive about leaving?"
Client: "Oh, right. Yeah, I think if I could pull it off, I'd end up healthier outside of this work environment. I'm not eating well or sleeping well, and I'm tense all the time."
Therapist: "So you're thinking getting out, or getting into a different work environment, would help you get healthier?" (Reflection/clarification.)
Client: "I do. In my last job, I took real lunch breaks so I'd get out and go for a walk. And I had time and energy to cook at home, so I was making healthier food for myself. I really think that away from this job, I'd lose 30 pounds and my overall health and well-being would increase dramatically."
Therapist: "Can you think of any other positives of leaving your job, or are you ready to look at what's good about staying?"
Client: "I'm ready to look at why I should stay. I know it's risky to just quit without having another job. I won't get unemployment, and if I can't find anything else we'll be in real financial trouble. At the same time, I'm so burnt out that the last thing I feel up to is a job search."
Therapist: "So, in terms of the positives of staying, it's the financial security?" (Reflection/clarification.)
Client: "That's right. I make a very competitive salary, and the benefits are good, too."
Therapist: "And beyond that, is there anything else on the plus side?"
Client: "Well, I do like the work I do. I feel like I'm making a real difference in the world. And I've gotten to meet a lot of amazing people."
Therapist: "That's interesting. It's sounding as though you like a lot of things about your job." (Reflection/clarification.)
Client: "I do — or at least I would, if the workload weren't so crazy."
Therapist: "And what would need to change for the workload to not be so crazy?"
Client: "Basically, I'd need to get an assistant. I had one in my last job. But this position doesn't have a budget for that."
Therapist: "So, if you could get an assistant, you might achieve some of those benefits you'd hoped to get from leaving your job?" (Reflection/clarification.)
Client: "Yeah, then it would be more like that last position, a lot more manageable."
Notice how a possible creative solution has begun to emerge — one that's different from either option the client had been considering before. The coach didn't suggest this idea, but just helped the client consider both sides of the issue (focusing just on the positives), reflect and clarify what was heard, and ask a key open-ended question ("What would need to change?"). Figuring out the details of a resolution would take a little more time, and this first idea (hiring an assistant) may end up not working out. But one way or another, this type of coaching conversation is likely to help the client achieve greater clarity. And it does so in a way that is much more empowering and motivating than simply telling them what to do.
Click here for more information about Ben Benjamin, PhD.
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