Posted: Tuesday 18th August 2020
The other day, I had cause to read an assessment letter that I had penned nearly 20 years ago as a young clinical psychologist. Although it was clinically competent in a basic sense, I was concerned about what I read. I had authored the report as if I were ‘the expert’. There was language of certainty, of othering, of putting the theory before the person concerned.
My first thought was pretty critical: How had I so lost my way back then? Perhaps a more compassionate reflection is that we might all take refuge in the ‘expert’ position at times, and this is understandable, yet requires a challenge nonetheless.
Perhaps as a young practitioner, I hadn’t yet gained the confidence that what I was coming to know about a child and their adult system was valid and worthwhile. This might have been why I had elevated the ‘gravy’ of psychological expertise above the ‘meat and potatoes’ of my clinical view formed in a relationship with the client.
The ‘meat and potatoes’ is the understanding which arises from engaging in the real clinical encounter with children and families. It involves appreciating the essential humanity of both the client and the practitioner themselves. From this honest human encounter, a grounded clinical view emerges.
Now who likes just a plate of gravy eh? Any Sunday roast dinner gourmet knows that the food and the gravy complement one another, and combined together well, make a meal that really satisfies and provides the energy to go forward.
Jen and Jael