Dr Ewald Crause
Welcome to another edition of PsyTalk, our quarterly bulletin showcasing the work of PsySSA’s Divisions, Standing Committees and Branches. We trust that you will find the content topical and relevant to our profession.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have been grappling with a question asked in a staff meeting I attended. The question was not asked because of malicious intend but rather an honest exploration of the status of mental health care in South Africa.
The question… “How relevant are we as psychologist in the current context of mental health care?”
Although somewhat startled by the question, the discussion that transpired illustrated the diverse opinions held by practitioners from all spheres of practice and across all registration categories. What was even more evident was that most service providers experience a disjuncture between their lived experience and what they feel is observed and measured within a world increasingly tasked with reporting on targets, goals, expenditure and other deliverables. The original question then seeks clarity on what is deemed ‘relevance’ and, possibly a more pressing challenge, ‘how do we measure relevance as psychological service providers?’
A counter argument could be… “is this approach to measuring our contribution and value in the world of mental health care provision fair?”
Although I could make an attempt to provide insight into my personal view on the matter such an attempt would be greatly skewed towards what I deem as ‘valuable’ contributions by the psychology fraternity and consequently some practitioners who differ from my view would be marginalised. In psychology I believe we need to remain acutely aware how our actions and reactions can and may influence those around us i.e., clients and colleagues. So, on the one hand one could argue that it is not necessary to fuel an already emotionally loaded discussion with a another biased opinion… but on the other hand it is also not appropriate to remain silent on matters that affect our personal and professional well-being. And this is the important link with our PsyTalk issue themed A Multidisciplinary Approach and the Role of the Psychologist.
When practitioners across disciplines are brought together around a central theme of client care it is important to understand how this team is larger than the sum of its parts. Indeed, the beauty of multidisciplinary teams are that they are diverse, dynamic and driven by the passion of client/patient care that transcends the boundaries of any single occupational category. When a contribution by any team member is made, the value is not derived from the manner in which the recommendation is implemented in isolation but rather how it contributes to the greater good of the client. It offers a different perspective on client care that previously could have been discounted or even rendered redundant.
Our contribution as psychologists within multidisciplinary teams are increasingly being recognised and acknowledged even to the extent where psychologists working within certain diagnostic parameters are deemed as ideal case managers. With this assumption of duty comes great responsibility hence this dedicated PsyTALK issue as an introductory resource for psychological service providers. I do believe that you will find the content interesting and informative.