To the Therapist That Comes After Me

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Most of us pediatric therapists work with children that have profound, life-long challenges. Sure, we have those patients that come in for a few months, make great progress, and get discharged – never to be seen again. But those are few and far between. (And seem to be fewer and father between now a days.) We build relationships, we get attached, and we work hard to enrich every aspect of a child’s life. There’s really no avoiding it. (Unless you are made of stone, you monster!)

But that also means things get messy. Lines blur and melt together, which is why it’s so much more than a job. It’s why we burn out, why we cry, and why we find ourselves searching for something else on those really tough days. We might end up moving, changing jobs, or just starting a family. And for those reasons, we might be “replaced” by another therapist.

Having been on both sides of that situation I can tell you, I’m not sure it’s fun either way. So here’s what I’d like to say to the therapist that follows me, and what I’d like to hear as the therapist that follows behind.

-I hope you get to make a connection just as strong as mine was.

Ok, well sort of. This is one of those things that I’d like to hear someone say to me, and is harder for me to say to someone else. Who doesn’t want to hear that they were the “best”? But on the flip side, when you are the therapist following someone else, you just want your chance to shine. With that being said, I hope that you get to chat comfortably, learn about a child’s life, and be welcomed as an important part of a child’s family.

-I hope you hear about me every once and a while, but not too much.

Miss “So-and-so” would always do ____. But, Miss “So-and-so” really wanted her to work on _____. Is that what Miss “So-and-so” would have done?

Yes, it’s annoying to hear what another therapist did while you are trying to do your thing. And it’s hard to try to be someone else when you just have to be true to the way you treat. I would want a family to appreciate and understand what I had done for their child, but also allow another therapist to show who they are and what they can do.

Plus, on the flip side, I hope the family doesn’t speak about their old therapist in a negative tone, either. It’s super awkward when you are the following therapist that hears everything the parent didn’t like about their old OT. It’s a pretty big red flag that they’ll be looking for things to criticize in you, or at the very least, make you feel like you have to avoid any potential similarities you may have with the old therapist.

-I hope you don’t try to prove me wrong, or criticize what I’ve done.

Haven’t you ever found yourself in one of those OT pissing contests with another therapist? Oh, you aren’t certified in Therapeutic Listening? Wait, you don’t precisely adhere to Jean Ayres’ methodology? Haven’t you extensively studied reflex integration yet? It’s exhausting. Why do we do this to each other?

I think/hope it comes from a place of wanting to help a child and family, but it mostly comes off as this crazy OT ego battle. We are probably all guilty of looking at someone else’s paperwork and saying, “Why in the world did they do THAT?” With that being said, you can carve out your own treatment plan in a way that doesn’t minimize or belittle someone else’s work.

-I hope you are given a chance to try your own way.

Come on, OT is a journey with about a million different pathways. My way and your way might not match, but it doesn’t mean one is better than the other. Another therapist is a whole new set of eyes, and a completely different perspective. Sometimes, when you’ve been seeing a child for YEARS, it’s nice to have a fresh set of eyes.

Besides, we all spend our time studying different aspects of our profession, and we bring unique skill sets to the table. When you get a new child on your caseload, you might see something that someone else didn’t, or at least try a new way that might bring even the smallest amount of change. I hope you never feel like you are stuck in someone else’s plan, because no one wins in that scenario.

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About TheAnonymousOT

Pediatric Occupational Therapist
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9 Responses to To the Therapist That Comes After Me

  1. joyce stewart says:

    Love your posts and  insights.  Just retired; but still enjoy reading the blog.   Wondering if you recall a article called the “Derailers”  – posted last year  and I thoughtit was on your sight – related to impact of un-integrated primitive reflexes.   Am away from home for a few months so not all work stuff at my fingertips – but eager to share it with a friend….  Thanks for any help!Joyce Stewart From: The Anonymous OT To: jgsgw@yahoo.com Sent: Monday, October 5, 2015 6:00 PM Subject: [New post] To the Therapist That Comes After Me #yiv8584535299 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv8584535299 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv8584535299 a.yiv8584535299primaryactionlink:link, #yiv8584535299 a.yiv8584535299primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv8584535299 a.yiv8584535299primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv8584535299 a.yiv8584535299primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv8584535299 WordPress.com | TheAnonymousOT posted: “Most of us pediatric therapists work with children that have profound, life-long challenges. Sure, we have those patients that come in for a few months, make great progress, and get discharged – never to be seen again. But those are few and far betwee” | |

  2. Hi, love your blog. Two quick things about this entry: 1. You use “father” instead of ‘farther’. 2. There are not “about a million different pathways.” You have an entry about EBP, and you appreciate EBP… so you must know that research is great at radically reducing the “million” options into just a few that have enough evidence to support them. My area is stroke, and I can tell you for a fact that there are very few treatment options with any sort of close-to-proven efficacy. So, while I don’t think pissing matches are the way to go, it is reasonable to call a spade a spade and let colleagues know that, no, there is not sufficient evidence to support your decision. I mean, you know…nicely.

  3. Pingback: OT Corner: To the Therapist that Comes After Me | PediaStaff Pediatric SLP, OT and PT Blog

  4. Pingback: OT Corner: To the Therapist that Comes After Me | PediaStaff - Therapy Jobs and Resources

  5. Joanna says:

    Yes! Thank you! Ditto to everything.

  6. mshanot2000 says:

    Bravo! I agree with every one.

  7. Amanda says:

    You are totally inspiring and I can associate with all you say. You have an amazing capacity to engage and see the reality when faced with the plethora of choices and decisions that need to be made ….that’s just in one session. Having done a mentor ship with Lucy Miller at the Star Centre , I love her approach….if it works and you get outcomes do it !!! Thank you for your encouragement and if you ever want to work in or visit Northern Ireland I am your person to come to.

  8. Kelly Clark says:

    Hi, this is my first time here and I just read a couple of your posts. Good stuff, thank you for sharing. I’m a COTA working towards OTR and I like reading OT bloggers experiences. Keep it up!

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