Who is a distressed physician or executive? How do they behave?
Distressed or disruptive professionals often exhibit a chronic pattern of contentious, threatening, intractable behaviors that are inappropriate in the work place and not in sync with the work place culture. Distressed professionals create an atmosphere that interferes with efficient and effective work flow. This is habitual behavior, not the rare outburst of an acutely fatigued individual in the face of a frustrating challenge. While the distressed professional may recognize that his or her behavior is exaggerated or inappropriate, he or she often lacks self-awareness and does not understand or recognize the impact of his/her behavior on others.
Hallmarks of the distressed physician or executive are:
- They view themselves as superior (and they often have high intelligence)
- They view others as less competent, or incompetent, weak and vulnerable
- They view themselves as champions of their patients or clients (this view is often shared by their patients/clients)
- Their behaviors are used either consciously or unconsciously to intimidate, control and blame others, generally producing poor results
- They feel misunderstood and the object of envy and jealously, especially when they are confronted about their behaviors
The actions of a distressed professional can result in:
- A decrease in workplace morale
- An increase in the level of workplace stress
- Inordinate time spent by staff appeasing or avoiding him/her
- Increased risk for errors—through the breakdown of communication that can result in delays and mistakes in making and implementing critical decisions
- Increased potential for senior leadership conflict, human resource involvement, and even greater risk for litigation
Assessment for Distressed Professionals
As stated earlier the majority of professionals resolve their issues through the coaching and counseling process. However, when the situation dictates a more intensive program in which the hospital administration, the employer, or the individuals themselves require a more thorough evaluation, our medical and therapeutic team will provide the following assessments, as appropriate.
- Psychiatric assessment by a board-certified psychiatrist
- Psychological assessment, including such tests as the MMPI-2RF, the MCMI III, STAXI-2 and other measures
- Assessment of family, social and marital circumstances
- Neuropsychological assessment
- Chemical dependency assessment
- Psychosexual assessment
Counseling and Coaching Options
Following the initial assessment, the following recommendations may occur, depending on the level of distress:
- Referral for individual coaching or counseling. This is the level of professional coaching or counseling more typical of individuals referred to The Distressed Professionals program.
- In addition to coaching the following services may be part of a more intensive program.
- Group therapy i.e., Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Dialectic Behavior Therapy, stress management, anger management or marital therapy
- Referral to psychiatric treatment for medication management
- Random screenings for alcohol or drugs associated with substance misuse
- Clayton Behavioral may recommend referral to a residential or outpatient program for the treatment of co-occurring depression, anxiety or substance abuse.
In general, treatment goals for distressed physicians or executives include:
- Expanded self-awareness
- Enhanced emotional self-regulation
- Development of conflict resolution skills
- Communication Skills
- Organizational and interpersonal awareness