Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Today I had to do something I feel is wrong.

In my clinical training, I perform psychological assessments. I was finishing up one such assessment process today, and met with the examinee for a feedback session to discuss the results. The assessment report can be very technical and difficult to interpret (or interpret correctly) for the lay-public (hence the feedback session to explain in everyday language).

Of course, at this point it's entirely appropriate to reference Simspons episode 9F09 (Homer's Triple Bypass):
Dr. Hibbert:
Homer, I'm afraid you'll have to undergo a coronary bypass operation.
Homer: Say it in English, Doc.
Hibbert: You're going to need open heart surgery.
Homer: Spare me your medical mumbo jumbo.
Hibbert: We're going to cut you open, and tinker with your ticker.
Homer: Could you dumb it down a shade?
For this reason, my supervisor does not like to give examinees their reports after testing and, when requested, sends the report to the proper audience (e.g. a school or other doctor). When asked for a report during a feedback session, he tells the examinee that it's not "his policy" to release the report. If they continue to ask for it, he gives it to them. After all, they have a right to it- he just doesn't like to give it to them. This is not a unversal practice (even within our clinic, other supervisors don't subscribe to this policy), but it's his, and I think it's pretty deceptive.

As his supervisee, I am expected to practice this habit. Today, after doing a good job explaining to my examinee what I'd found, she asked for the report. I told her, "It's our policy not to release the report." I told her we would send it wherever she needed it sent. She asked if there was any way to get the report for her records, to facilitate sending the report in the future, to have it for her records. All I could do was repeat, "It's out policy not to release the report."

It went on, but I feel dirty enough already. I need a shower.

Update (3/15/07): The clinic's policy is, in fact, to release reports to patients, but to make them jump through minor hurdles to get it (submitting a written request and signing consent to release their report to.. themselves- huh?). So, this examinee will get her report. I feel better now, but it's yet another strike against my supervisor, with whom we already have some major issues.
At times like this, it's important to remember advice my old alte-supervisor gave me when I left work before returning to school to start my graduate studies-
תזהר מחמור נושא ספרים" (Beware of donkeys carrying books)

Update to the update: My aforementioned alte-supervisor is a secular Israeli with contempt for the practice of religious Jews (a tradition in which he was raised; in his youth, he attended an elite yeshiva, possibly qualifying him as an authentic apikores. His advice to me suddenly takes on new meaning.

1 comment:

  1. Ariel4:50 PM

    That totally stinks. As a fellow clinician, and as a past client, I totally agree with your instincts. It's one thing if the report was ordered by an agency, e.g. a school for a child, in which case I wouldn't share the report directly with the child/family. In this case, however, where the adult client herself is the ultimate owner of the report, she should have the right to receive the report herself. I wonder if you had a chance to share this with anyone at school, and, if so, what sort of response you got. This process of forging a professional identity is a challenging one, indeed.