Training and Consultation

 

Ron Balamuth

Clinical Consultations: The question of care for the caregivers often comes when I consult students and colleagues. Mental health professionals are vulnerable to “compassion fatigue.” The constant immersion in empathy and engaging with clients who are suffering, traumatized, and in pain, exerts much pressure on the clinician. In my consulting and training practice, my priority is the clinician, his/her wellbeing, both in body and mind and ability to create an environment, first for him/herself where he/she feels compassionate and accepting towards him/herself. As a clinician with great interest in clinical theory, but also a deep commitment to somatic approaches to healing, I bring both to my consultation practice. Emphasizing how demanding it is to be physically, emotionally and intellectually present as a therapist, in consultations with colleagues we will address all these aspects in our discussion of clinical process. One of the best assets of a clinician is to “know when they do not know,” that is, to sincerely assess and acknowledge their confusion, doubts and dilemmas when working with clients and seek consultation with colleagues when the need arises. I participate in ongoing peer study and consultation groups to support my clinical work, to stay both present and attuned. Intensive clinical work has many rewards but has also leads to much emotional wear and tear for the clinician, and I see my role in consulting colleagues as helping them identify these early signs so that they might reach out and receive the support they need.

 

School and Agency Consultations: I have consulted with schools and agencies for the past twenty-five years.  Typically recent consultations included systematic classroom interventions focusing on discipline and management problems, group dynamics in the class such as bullying, integrating students with special needs, issues around separation and adjustment, or transition to ongoing schools. I identify systemic issues that interfere with the provision of services. It is not uncommon for a consultation to begin with a particular behavior issue, often classroom management challenges, which turns out to originate with dynamics within the classroom, school administration, or even the larger community. A behavior issue that seems very recalcitrant at the classroom level can become much more workable when understood as a systemic issue. My consultations at this level offer effective solutions to long-standing institutional issues. As with all my other professional activities, my main focus is on relationships, and correctly identifying conflicts, constrictions, and most importantly unrecognized resources that will allow to resolve the impasse.