This Week's Poll
The primary issue my counselors and I are dealing with right now is a scared and frustrated clientele. They're encountering a medical community that is as divided in their thinking on Covid medical advice as the current political parties are. The confusion and fear that's creating is what we're being asked to defuse. I want to focus on what they're encountering and how should we ethically deal with it in our practice.
Covid Medical Advice: A Doctors' Office Divided
Half of the doctors seem to be filtering everything through a Covid lens. Gone are the days of treatment options and careful, patient explanation. That seems to have been replaced with a view that, regardless of the nature of your complaint, we're going to begin our assessment with your Covid vaxx status and hammer that home "until you submit to my superior viewpoint". I hear it in my office from clients, I read about it online, and I've experienced it myself on several recent doctor visits.
The other half of the medical community is not so quick to blame everything on Covid nor have they abandoned their commitment to treatment options and doctor-patient partnerships.
When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, all treatment options were explored. When my husband was diagnosed with an aggressive prostate cancer, his doctors helped us turn over every rock in search of the best approach. The result was that we each made the best decision, in partnership with our doctors, that fit our situation the best; no intimidation tactics, no strong-arming. And guess what? We made good choices and we're still going strong. Thank God for open-minded professionals who view their patient relationships as the partnerships they are.
It's Your Health, Question Everything!
We grew up thinking that doctors are the best and the brightest and are not to be questioned. (Some of them apparently believe that about themselves, to a fault!) I'm simply suggesting that we challenge that antiquated line of thinking and question everything, especially the doctors. If they don't like it, find a new doctor. It needs to be as simple as that.
What's Our Role?
We're not medical doctors, not licensed to dispense Covid medical advice or any other type. We have to be very careful not to cross that line. We're counselors and at it's core level, counseling is helping people learn "how to think" about themselves and their lives. This current Covid environment requires just that approach from you and me.
What we can do is help our clients process their options and provide them with a framework for action they can understand. We can't fix their problems but we can definitely reduce the confusion which will hopefully reduce the fear.
Our Personal Biases
Let's talk about our biases for a moment because we all have them. I'll be the first person to tell you that I have very definite views about what's going on. I have spent hundreds of hours doing my own research. Honestly, the daily challenge I face in my own session room is the urge to spill everything I know on each and every client, but I won't do that.
This Covid event has us all divided. To vax or not to vax? Do what the doctor tells you to, or question things? To mask or not to mask? Each of us has our own opinions on those things and we must be careful not to bring those biases into the counseling rooms. We must let the clients do their own research and come to their own conclusions. Whatever that outcome is, you and I have to be ok with it because it's their course to chart, not ours.
How I'm Advising My Clients
Please remember, we're talking about clients that have come to us because of their confusion and fear stemming from the conflicting Covid medical advice they're receiving from their doctors, the media, neighbors and relatives.
Here's how I approach that scenario.
1. I want them to come to the realization that their healthcare is totally their call to make.
2. I want them to understand that doctors are just people like we are.
If they were perfect they wouldn't call it a "practice", would they. (Phillip tells me that he grew up with a future doctor and a future nurse and he "saw every stupid thing those two ever did growing up. They're very talented, highly skilled people that make mistakes just like the rest of us do. They're not perfect and they don't know everything.") So I ask the client questions about their view of doctors.
3. I want the client to know that doing their own research is not only acceptable, it's required!
4. I want the client to know that it's essential that they question their doctor about everything. (If the doctor has a problem with that then it's time for a new doctor.)
5. If a client holds a like-minded stance and asks me for advice I will tell them what I am doing but I will always stress that they should do their own research and make their own final decisions.
6. If a client asks me what they should ask their doctor I will provide them with a list of research-oriented questions to facilitate them in making their own healthcare decisions. I also advise them to do their own research on these issues before asking their doctor. That list includes, in no particular order:
To Mask Up or Not?
Question: Do you require visitors to your office wear a mask?
Question: What do the CDC and other recognized institutions say about the efficacy of wearing masks as a preventative measure? Have they been consistent in their recommendations and, if not, why not?
Question: Talk to me about the benefits of wearing masks vs any harmful drawbacks.
To Vaxx or Not?
Question: Can you compare the different vaccines for me? What are the pros and cons for each one?
Question: Which of the available vaccines does your clinic make available?
Question: Which vaccine will give me full and permanent immunity?
Question: What's in these vaccines? Show me a list of the ingredients?
Question: There are no long-term Covid-shot studies but what do the statistics reported by other doctors indicate? (See the VAERS reports online)
Question: How much is your clinic paid for each shot given and who's making that payment?
Question: What are the testing options available? Give me a list of different testing options and where I may get them, please.
Question: What are the known drawbacks to the rapid PCR test?
Question: What are my in-patient treatment options? (It's 2021. There's more than (1) treatment option for everything. If the hospital and a respirator are the only options given for in-patient care, run!)
Question: What are my out-patient treatment options? (They exist!)
Question: List the other treatment options available that have proven effective in other countries?
Question: Do you have a problem if I obtain a second opinion?
And never forget the fail-safe questions, "Why?", and "Tell me more about that".
I want to stress that any individual has to do their own research before asking their doctor these questions or your overall context of the possibilities will be very limited. We've relied too much on the doctor to tell us what to do for the past 100 years, it's time to wake up and take control of your own healthcare. Sometimes people just need "permission" from an authority figure they trust (you) in order to pursue what they already know is the right course of action.
Stand Your Ground. Don't Give Up.
Plan Smart. Be Safe. Serve Others.
Kathleen Mills, LPC-S, CEAP
Got An Opinion?
These posts are my beliefs based on a) almost 30 year practice as a mental health provider and b) my own research. Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to leave your civil, constructive comments below. I try very hard to back up my liberty-based statements with my own experience and/or verifiable facts and I would ask you to do the same. You do not need to be logged in to leave a comment.