I bring to the process of physician coaching process my 30 years of experience as a psychoanalyst and my understanding of the nature and influence of unconscious mental processes that may be contributing to a current challenge and to a physician’s difficulties in dealing with it effectively. The physician coaching process I provide includes a psychodynamic perspective and I would like to be clear with regard to how this perspective will enrich the physician coaching process.
The term ‘psychodynamic’ arose early in the 20th century in the context of the development of psychoanalytic theories related to the nature and influence of unconscious mental processes. These mental processes are both active and influential within our minds and yet they operate outside of our conscious awareness. And these unconscious mental processes, which have their origins in our early developmental years, may exert a powerful influence on how we feel, on how we think and, importantly, on how we relate to others. And these unconscious mental processes may at times profoundly compromise our efforts to work toward the achievement of our chosen goals.
The International Coaching Federation defines coaching as ‘partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential’. Psychodynamic physician coaching is fully aligned the ICF definition of coaching. Its purpose is to nurture the development within the physician of a capacity for personal insight into connections between the problems they are facing in their current professional/personal circumstances and their own personal history and then to support the development of a realistic plan for the achievement of the physician’s self-chosen goals.
Our physician coaching relationship
In the process of physician coaching my attention will be directly focused on you and I will be will be personally engaged with you. I will be asking you to tell me about the challenge you are encountering and about the relational and/or organizational context in which this is happening. And I will also be asking you about yourself, your personal history, your values and your patterns of relating to others. We will be working closely together to discover as much as we can about you – to discover information that will be of great value to you in the resolution of the problem you are facing.
At the same time I will work indirectly by being openly receptive to the unconscious communications that may take place in the context of our coaching relationship. I will reflect on these unconscious communications and then offer thoughtful explicit communications to you to facilitate the development of personal insight that is relevant to the problem you are facing and the goal that you are seeking to achieve.
My commitment to offering you a safe, respectful, thoughtful and fully confidential environment is crucial to the process of psychodynamic physician coaching. Within this respectful and reflective relationship your self-understanding will evolve and realistic plans will emerge for you to resolve the challenge you have encountered and to achieve your chosen goal.