I'm a tug boat. Who knew!

Co-creating change and never giving up.

Written BY

Dr Jessica Bolton

Head of Attuned Connection

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July 5, 2019

EmotiHealth is very much up and running! And with an open professionals workshop, a public ‘cinemar’ and four days of core training for our second year trainees in the last 12 days, it is open for business and I’m ready for my weekend off!

But the learning I’m reflecting on today is about how we support culture change.  I spend a lot of time planning about how to increase the opportunities for effective, emotional learning for those who connect with us at EmotiHealth.  I place a lot of value on shared emotional experiences, where we can lean into newness within our own process and hear new perspectives, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  As a psychologist and psychotherapist, I have mainly worked with individuals, teams and healthcare / education systems; and as a learner I have had as many epiphanies that have led to meaningful lasting change in group learning environments as in one-to-one experiences.

So, when we secured and moved into our training centre at the beginning of the year, the collective experiences I have been dreaming about for many years could begin to come to life.   Coming together to co-create change was the main aim... the how takes energy, perseverance and passion. Amongst other things, I’ve longed to support long term supervision groups where members can support each other’s growth and protect against burnout across many years.  I’ve imagined a shared space to where we can learn and grow; where we can meet and agitate, watch emotional films and documentaries that move us and inspire action. And gradually, the dreams are taking shape and transforming into reality.

Last night, a metaphor emerged as we wrapped up our first cinemar.  We had watched, laughed and shed a tear or two during the film All the Rage - a documentary about Dr Sarno, physical problems with emotional causes and the battle against our system that prioritises medical treatment over uncovering ‘what was happening in your life at the time the pain started’.  We were unexpectedly delighted to be discussing the issues it raised with the director - Michael Galinksky, who took us on an additional rollercoaster with his perspective on the impact of the film since it was released.  The hope we finally saw emerge on Dr Sarno’s face towards the end of the film was somewhat dashed as Michael shared the sad reality that the film had not been as widely seen as hoped, and that the world had not been ready in 2017 to receive it’s messages.  He also showed an inspiring degree of acceptance and presence, as well as patience.  He spoke of the culture of the medicalisation of emotional pain as a titanic like ship, almost impossible to steer and manoeuvre at speed, almost impossible to change it’s course.

So as I wrapped up, I wanted to honour the perspective of the panel members and what had been shared, but also to encourage new co-created change and value the actions of the many and the few.  “So" I mused. "We may be dealing with an oil tanker but we can each be a tug boat... and if we have enough, we can take it right off course.  Go tug!”

Further Reading
Explaining chronic bodily symptoms (infographic)
What causes chronic symptoms when there's no obvious physical explanation, even after extensive medical investigations?
September 4, 2019
“Why can I not find the cause of my patient’s pain?”
This is a question I hear a great deal from Family Medicine Doctors. For many doctors with patients like these, it's hugely frustrating. Imagine, then, how you and your patients would feel if you could find a way to provide better outcomes for them.
September 3, 2019