Tag Archives: #MedPsych

MedPsych Hiatus

Hi folks. Susan and I want to thank everyone who has participated in #MedPsych so far.  We have an amazing community, and there is a lot of energy here toward improving and integrating our healthcare system.

At the moment, Susan and I are facing a good news/bad news issue.  The good news is that we both have a lot going in in our private practices, which is keeping us very occupied.  The bad news is that everything happening in our businesses and families means that the two of us have had to push #MedPsych to a back burner in the past few months.

We both believe that this community and our goals deserve a lot more than a last-minute chat topic.  And we are trying to figure out what steps would ensure that “more” takes place.  We will be continuing to talk, however, until we get some answers figured out, #MedPsych is going to take a break.

We will be available to group members on Twitter and in the Google+ community, and the hashtag will remain active.  We just won’t be conducting a weekly chat on Tuesday nights.  While we are on hiatus, please continue to connect and share in our group spaces (Twitter & G+).  Please connect with the #hcldr chat (health care leadership), the #healthdoers chat (people actively working toward health), the #MHStigma chat (mental health stigma), the #hchlitss chat (health care, health literacy & social science), or others.

Susan and I will be continuing to work towards whole person healthcare, with brain and body integration.  We’ll let you know more as we know it.

Thanks again for everything.  You are amazing and we look forward to continuing to rabblerouse with you!

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Mission Statement Building

When the #MedPsych community formed, over a year ago, it was driven by a desire to truly change healthcare.  Over the last year, we have had a wonderful core group form.  And now, we recognize that changing healthcare is going to require action. And action needs a plan. So, during our January 13th chat, Dr. Giurleo and I invited the community to brainstorm a mission statement.  This post is the summary of the wonderful ideas that were generated.  Actually, this post is the next step in building our mission statement into a tool that can power forward action.  So let’s start with a list of some of community’s thoughts:

  • If we can get rockets to fly, we can integrate health care. — Susan Giurleo
  • We pledge to be an inclusive community together working towards holistic health- mind, body & spirit. We connect to each other. — Gia Sison
  • Nike had the best mission statement ever. Just Do It. Mission statements tend to be so long these days they can become meaningless.  — Scott Strange
  • Maybe what we need more operationally is a clear goal. Let’s brainstorm one clear goal for our work in the coming months. — Susan Giurleo
  • Healthcare should connect brain & body. Connection shouldn’t be only patient’s responsibility. Let’s not reinvent the wheel. — Ann Becker-Schutte
  • Increase awareness on both sides of the HCP/PT relationship to facilitate open communication. — Laurel Ann Whitlock
  • Impress upon all stakeholders the interconnectedness of mental health to physical well-being. — Laurel Ann Whitlock
  • Increase provider and patient demand for whole health care. — April Foreman
  • Create resources and open channels for information – increase awareness through education. — Laurel Ann Whitlock
  • Increase provider and patient awareness that whole person healthcare EXISTS and MATTERS. — Laurel Ann Whitlock
  • We are all in this together to collaborate, problem solve, heal and create #wholepersonhealthcare. — Sean Erreger
  • We are bringing together all county safety nets to collaborate on uninsured pts w/high ER admissions: community-centerered-health-home. — Jen Platt
  • Need to educate people about the benefits of shifting to #wholepersonhealthcare . Spread the word.  — Sean Erreger
  • I think a huge practical goal is to get people to bring forth personal anecdotes re: how combining mental/physical health worked. –Laurel Ann Whitlock
  • A piece around how integrated care leads to better health outcomes AND cost savings. — Susan Giurleo
  • Breaking down Tx silo’s benefits all stakeholders. — Sean Erreger
  • Seems like the goals I’m hearing are that #MedPsych should be a clearinghouse for best practices in #wholepersonhealthcare (or #wphc).  — Ryan Lucas

Okay folks. There’s the summary.  What happens next is that we try to consolidate this impressive list into a few clear points, so that we have a mission that can be explained quickly and easily understood.  We will also be working on identifying a series of action steps.

As part of this process, I’ll be sharing this as an editable document in our Google + Community.  Stop on in and add your thoughts.

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Healthy Doesn’t Equal Superhuman

I started to touch on this point last week in my post about honoring vulnerability. And we’ve had some great discussions about the issue of vulnerability and health over the past few weeks in #MedPsych chat (check out the transcripts here).  And there have been comments made during this entire year of the #MedPsych chat that have led to this topic.

Being healthy (in body and mind) doesn’t equal being superhuman.

I think that if I said that to the average person on the street, they would agree with me.  But, the truth is, we kind of expect superhuman–from ourselves, from our patients/clients, and from our healthcare providers.

  • We expect that we will never fall ill.
  • We expect that we will perfectly manage our chronic health conditions.
  • We expect that we will always communicate our needs well.
  • We expect that we will intuitively choose healthy habits.
  • We expect that we will never need to restart our healthy choices.
  • We expect that clients will keep appointments, even when their lives are in chaos.
  • We expect that patients can make behavior changes, even without education and support.
  • We expect that clients and patients can communicate their needs on our timeline.
  • We expect that our healthcare providers will be completely up to date on current research.
  • We expect that our healthcare providers will start all appointments on time.
  • We expect that our healthcare providers will take as much time with us as we need.
  • We expect that our healthcare providers will be able to connect empathetically with us as fellow human beings.
  • We expect that our healthcare providers will have good enough boundaries not to burden us with their struggles.

And that’s just a tiny sampling of the expectations that we have–for ourselves and for our healthcare providers–when it comes to health.  Laid out like that, it becomes pretty easy to understand why we often feel blamed and judged in healthcare, on all sides of the treatment equation.

It seems clear to me that all of these threads: countering stigma, honoring vulnerability, and acknowledging human-ness are essential components of building a healthcare system that truly honors and integrates support for whole people (body, brain, relationships).

I think one area to start changing our expectations is in our training systems.  We need systems where students who set healthy boundaries are respected, not judged.  We need training systems where mistakes are treated as opportunities to learn, not moments of public shaming (or a rush to risk management).  We need training that give us permission and tools to consider our work as part of an integrated system, not isolated silos of expertise.

And sometimes, we just need to pause, and honor the fact that being human is a process of learning and relearning, of connecting, of struggling–a process, not a destination.


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Honoring Vulnerability

This post was originally posted on Dr. Becker-Schutte’s home blog.


This year, I had the chance to participate in two fantastic panels at Stanford’s Medicine X conference. You can see the video of the panel on chronic illness and depression here:
The video for the second panel will be available later this fall. The great thing about panels is that you get an authentic discussion, a give and take that is really valuable. The tough thing about panels is that you often think about the things you wish you had said later on (maybe that’s just me).

So, this post is about those things. The things I wish I had said–in both panels. Because at the heart of all of the work I do with my clients, the advocacy I do online, and the writing I share in this blog is this conviction: We are all unique, fascinating, fallible, fragile, resilient human beings. In spite of marketing that suggests that we should never be sad, never feel pain, never experience illness-each of those experiences is a part of being human. In spite of a culture that demands invulnerability and infallibility, we are both vulnerable and prone to mistakes.

So, I wish I had said these things:

  • We need to give our doctors and other health care providers permission to experience and claim their own pain, fear, sadness and vulnerability.
  • We need to talk about the amazing learning potential in our mistakes.
  • We need safe space (in our heads, in our workplaces, in our training environments) to have moments of vulnerability.
  • We need to counter shame and unrealistic expectations.
  • We need to challenge the damaging perfectionism that pervades our healthcare system.
  • We need to respect the courage it takes to admit when you are hurting, or scared, or depressed, or anxious.
  • We need to support one another’s humanity more and better.

The statement I made that was tweeted the most was about the need to decrease stigma around depression and other brain health struggles–both in medical patients and in medical providers. In order to decrease stigma, we need to increase our understanding that vulnerability is a fundamental human experience AND our compassion and empathy for the pain and difficulty that vulnerability can bring.

I’ve been having a conversation about vulnerability with the #MedPsych tweetchat community over the past week. We’re continuing that conversation tonight at 9:30 pm ET. You are welcome to join us.

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Behavior Change–Easier to Say Than to Do

In recent #InnoPsy chats, we have talked a lot about the fact that many healthy choices (from regular movement to taking insulin) are actually behaviors.  So, helping people make healthy choices is, at the root of things, helping people choose or change behaviors that support their health.

The truth of the matter is, behavior change is complicated.

It sounds simple on paper.  Do this more. Do this less.

In fact, it sounds so simple on paper (or on the screen, or in the exam room) that we expect people to be able to hear about a beneficial behavior change and immediately begin implementing that change.

But that expectation ignores the reality of human behavior.  Behavior is so much more than a simple set of choices.  Instead, behavior is a reflection of your experiences and patterns throughout a lifetime.  Behavior has triggers and rewards (some of which don’t make great sense).  Behavior has emotional components.  Shaping behavior is challenging.  Just ask anyone who has ever tried to get a two-year old to behave in a way that the child didn’t choose.

We all have an inner two-year old.  That part of ourselves that is unwilling to make a change.  That part of ourselves that might be willing to throw a tantrum to avoid having to engage with change–even healthy change.

What we know as psychologists is this.  Behavior change is hard AND behavior change is possible.  Honoring and respecting the challenge is part of how we navigate through it.

In fact, during tonight’s chat, we are going to invite our community to take part in some real-time behavior change.  We hope that you’ll join us.  We hope you’ll feel free to share your responses.  And we hope you’ll come along with us as we practice walking our own talk.

–Ann & Susan

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Come on In, The Water’s Fine!

I believe psychologists have an important role to play in bringing about health care change. And I am so very excited to be partnering with innovative thinker and psychologist Dr. Susan Giurleo to begin exploring how that might happen.

After a discussion in which several psychologists were sharing frustration over our wish to contribute more and our sense that our voices aren’t heard in other spaces, we realized that we could do something about that. We could build a space and reach out to others from that platform. I talked about this a bit more in my post “Why #InnoPsy?

Now it’s time to actually get it started.

The Medicine and Psychology Tweetchat started January 7th 2014 as the #InnoPsy chat, and continues every Tuesday at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT. Why a Tweetchat? Because Twitter is a platform that allows for global conversations–and it’s where I met most of the innovators that I admire and respect.

You’ve never participated in a Tweetchat, you say? No problem. First of all, you need a Twitter account. They are free and easy to establish. If you’re starting your first account, you’ll be prompted to follow some folks. You could start with Susan Giurleo (@SusanGiurleo) and I (@DrBeckerSchutte). You can also follow the @MedPsychChat account for chat topics and moderation.

Once you have your Twitter account up and running, I would recommend using another tool to participate in the chat. My favorites are Tweetchat or T.chat. Either of these tools allows you to enter a hashtag (ours is #MedPsych) and you will see the chat in a full screen window, which makes it easy to follow along.

So, if you want to join a #MedPsych chat, then pull up your device of choice at 9:30 pm ET on a Tuesday night.  Open your Tweetchat, T.chat, or other Twitter interaction tool.  Type the #MedPsych hashtag into the search bar, and jump on into the conversation.  We’ll ask for introductions, and then be off and running on our topic of the night.

Not a psychologist or a doctor? No problem! #MedPsych is open to all stakeholders (and if you live in a body, you are a healthcare stakeholder).  We believe that a big-tent community is how we will truly find solutions to the challenges that we face in healthcare.

The first chat included some community brainstorming about topics we wanted to explore in a discussion about innovation in psychology.  Now, we’ll introduce a new topic each week.

I hope we see you there! I’m excited to explore new ideas in psychology, medicine, and integrated healthcare.

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