Seeing the Possible Best in Everyone
Photo By: Nathan Dumlao
While I was interning in graduate school, the psychiatrist who was the medical director of our clinic for the county’s most challenging persistently mentally ill, became quite frustrated with me for being so idealistic with my patients. He said I was not reality-based enough to be able to assist them. I replied as respectfully as I could that, perhaps he was right, but my perspective was to see the possible best in every patient in order to elicit the same from them, in spite of their presentation.
I never read the clinical reports on my patients until after I met with them, because I didn’t want my initial assessment to be contaminated by the previous clinicians’ diagnoses. As a result of allowing myself to “not know”, I was able to perceive possibilities with these patients that very likely wouldn’t have occurred to me had I assumed from the get-go the reality of accepted clinical diagnoses and reports. Of course, I read the reports later, but I had by then been able to bring a fresh perspective to what was assumed, thereby achieving some very unusually positive results with patients diagnosed as people who would never improve.
Interestingly enough, my work with them was so effective, that a year later the same medical director requested supervision from me on my particular methodology.
This article is an excerpt of a larger body of work, The Creative Process: A Portal to ‘Not-Knowing,’ which you can read HERE.