In my last post I discussed the professional silos that exist in our systems of care. So often trauma-impacted are caught between these silos. Silos that are fragmented struggle and may be incapable of addressing the real problem, which is rooted in some type of traumatic experience of their clients.
Another aspect of this siloed approach to so many of our social ills is the communication about what issues are being identified and the ensuing strategies. Our therapeutic code of confidentiality and HIPAA regulations have provided very rigid standards about what information can be passed from one professional to another. It can take a significant amount of time to get the permissions required for this type of communication to occur across systems. These regulations are designed to protect the privacy of trauma-impacted individuals who may be involved in our systems of care. Although privacy is essential to protect clients, there also needs to be consistency of understanding among professionals who encounter someone who is in therapy for a traumatic event.
A second communication deficit is in the unique language of each silo. Each profession has its own language, its own diagnostic labels and its own treatment approaches. The language reflecting these different therapeutic options can be a hindrance to introduce other approaches that may be different. Some of the therapeutic language carries with it a strong philosophical basis which has little room for other options. For example, a psychiatric evaluation may result in a diagnosis and language. Another professional may not even know that language or perspective. As I pointed out in my last post, these labels can confine someone in a particular system of care that may not be appropriate for their set of issues.
Another communication problem is the lack of or no communication at all between systems. Individuals with emotional or relational problems are identified in one system but there might be no coordination or communication with other systems that are also involved with that individual.
I remember a situation where I was working with a student and was completely unaware what drugs he had been prescribed and why. I was unclear about why he was presenting some of his behaviors. However, he switched to a psychiatrist who communicated with me with every change of drug type and dosage (with permission from the student) so I was always clear about the prescribed drug status. That change made a huge difference to the effectiveness of therapy.
We have found that professionals who are trained in and utilize a common language are better able to assist their clients with consistent concepts and approaches that allow them and their families to more easily understand their needs, clarify their experiences and work together on interventions they can implement with consistency and effectiveness. A common language and intentional communication allows for everyone to be on the same page as they engage in relationships. This can facilitate hope and healing because of the clarity they share. We witnessed this reality as we have trained professionals within the same community that are in different professions but have many clients in common. Just the issue of consistent terms, language and approaches can make a huge difference to the success of a client being better able to overcome their life adversities. If we can hear, understand and communicate effectively cross-professionally, there is great opportunity to become more efficient in helping those in need and recovery.