An entertaining component of working with people and joining with them along their journeys is learning new terms and phrases. I’ve picked up all sorts of things from the “kids” ranging from “what’s the tea?” to “You’re vibin’”.
Recently, I heard a new phrase utilized by a practicing clinician at a place where a collection of professionals were conversing (Yes, it was a small gathering that practiced social distancing and my mask was securely in place above my nose). Instead of being amused by the phrase, I was perplexed, and grateful my mask covered the parts of my face that gave away my puzzlement. This phrase was “turn and burn”, in which was utilized in the premise of delivering assessments and diagnoses, and then promptly whisking them out the door without a referral to be had.
So many tangential thoughts raced through my mind. This professional appeared seasoned, and well-respected by the gaggle of others surrounding them. They spoke with a plethora of clinical dialogue, however stated an opinion of which causes them to “turn and burn” a particular category of clients. The casual way they threw this phrase into the open awoke the advocate in me.
Perhaps this phrase helps distance a person from the vulnerability that can engulf someone whenever they do not feel fit to aid in someone’s healing. One size does not indeed fit all in the world of mental health, and it can uncomfortably twinge every time this occurs. Take it from a therapist whose been in this world for only a handful of years, it takes a hot minute to find your way toward your preferred population. A hot minute full of awkwardness, anxiously slow sessions, and a room full of people who do not “vibe”.
So, I can understand the discomfort with this type of vulnerability. It keeps us on our therapeutic toes so that we continuously act in the best interests of our clients.
Perhaps it’s the “burn” part that singes my desire to explore this with this person.
It ties back to a past tangent I’ve been keeping in my back pocket. The majority of my caseload are minors, and I’ve read through my fair share of psychological evaluations. The hang up is that the majority of the evaluations I peruse were completed years ago. Presently, this is the first time families pursue therapy, although these evaluations clearly state mental health disorders and/or learning disabilities. These gaps in time are so thematic and equally as frustrating. Perhaps other clinicians have noticed this discrepancy.
This is the “burn”.
The discrepancy of our therapeutic world. The disconnect that impacts our ability to provide comprehensive care. Think about if you went to the emergency room for pain in your back. The ER ran an extensive number of tests and diagnosed you with scoliosis. They recommended you seek out the appropriate therapeutic approach. Next, they swiftly say “best of luck” and escort you toward the exit, never to be seen again. Imagine standing outside of this door, with answers, however without guidance on steps to remedy your pain.
No, the emergency room would encourage you to seek out a physical therapist, one that’s most likely covered by health insurance.
Jump over to the mental health world and our system hardly follows such fluidity. This is not mental health professionals' fault to a certain degree. The nature of the macrocosm of the US does not support it. Mental health is still very much in the fight for recognition as a form of heath that’s as vital for the pursuit of a full life as physical health is. Up until a few moons ago, I had no clue the particular professionals at this experience existed within the community I’ve been practicing in for the past few years. Sure, I know of some, but certainly not enough.
Standing there, I felt as if most of us exist on our own solitary therapeutic islands. All of us pursue the same desire to help and heal, and while we seek out consultation and support from those on our very small islands, there is little in the ways of building bridges.
I have hopes that one day, our nation will fully recognize the necessity of mental health and view it in such a proactive light as physical health is focused in. That comradery is composed in such a manor that when we feel the vulnerability creep in, we don’t have to “burn” but instead refer to our phonebook of colleagues whom follow a theoretical orientation that far better benefit the humans standing before us. I hope that “turning and burning” will be a phrase of the past as a highlight of the growth that lies before us.
Cheers fellow clinicians, I see you. We’ve got this.