ACA Blog

Doc Warren
May 11, 2012

The inkhornist bladderskate met the tickletail and found they were worth less than the cock-penny; or beware of using to ...

Many of you reading this are likely doing so just to find out what the heck I am talking about. I would guess that the majority of you have never heard of many of the words in my title. You may feel a bit lost, confused and possibly frustrated; I assure you that this was by design so that I could illustrate my point. As clinicians we all have advanced degrees and specialty training. Some of us have the minimum requirements for our craft while others have many additional ones as well based on our needs for our jobs or personal desires. As advanced practitioners we have learned some complex terms and have learned the verbal shorthand that comes with it. We speak with our peers and freely make reference to “our” words while doing so. Many of us catch ourselves using our word salad with clients; hopefully we catch ourselves and in a noncondescending way we educate the client on what we said, its meaning and use. If not, they may be as lost as many of you were with the title. I am not suggesting that we “dumb down” what we do but instead that we make it a point to use “normal” language whenever possible and when we use technical terms that we make sure our client knows what we are doing. For instance, most of our clients have not heard about the DSM IV TR, though we use it all the time. They may not know what multiaxial assessment is nor what the term Anxiety D/O NOS refers to, though we likely have said those things to at least one client. As for me, I tend to explain to people what I am doing when the assessment starts, what the aim of it is, the process etc. If they show an interest I will explain the five axis, their meaning etc. as we go over their diagnosis and rationale for it. Few people show no interest while many express and appreciation for being “allowed” to know just what it is that we have been doing. At times this can be a very good learning tool and it helps to foster a sense of belonging and partnership between the clinician and client. When working with new clinicians I try to help them to always try to think about how it would feel to be on the other side of the session. If they never studied psychology would they be able to get through a session with someone like they are when they perform a session? Do they use large words in sentences that give not a smattering of a clue as to their meaning? In a nut shell, do they come across as a regular person who is also a scholar or do they come across as purely an academic? As the risk of becoming a bladderskate, I will close this blog. Have a great week! (I chose some “forgotten English” from the book of the same name by Jeffery Kacirk. For our discussion Inkornism is from the 16th and 17th century and meant overworked or unnecessarily intellectual. Tickletail was slang for a switch that was used to hit with as a form of punishment, Bladderskate referred to indistinct or indiscreet talking and a Cock-Penny was a penny paid to a teacher in lieu of providing an actual Cock (rooster) to a teacher who would use it in a Cock fighting match).

Warren Corson III (Doc Warren) is a counselor and the clinical & executive director of a community counseling agency in central CT (www.docwarren.org).

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