Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Provider Talking to Client Through Me

In the last couple of weeks I've gone with two different clients on two appointments to meet their providers; One with a physician and another with a benefits worker. In each I had the surreal experience of witnessing the provider behave as if my client wasn't quite visible -- in the first the physician spoke to me, nearly ignoring my client which angered me, and in the second the benefits worker made eye contact only with me during the entire appointment. ARGH! In each appointment my client tended to ask the provider questions through me with the provider more likely to do the same. Interestingly, in neither instance did my client seemed offended or annoyed that the provider wasn't talking to her directly.
Sure, I understand I'm the advocate so some participation on my part is expected during these types of appointments. But even though I could understand where the provider's coming from in talking to me I became aware of how insulting it may feel for the client -- the person actually receiving the service -- to not be greeted or spoken to directly. And yes, I am putting the burden on the providers to be those who try harder because that's part of our job.


LBSW said...

That rings true with me too. It's frustrating when other practitioners forget to address the client who is actually receiving the service. Well put.

Sela said...

any thoughts about how to address this?

Anatolia said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, LBSW!

Thanks for commenting too Sela -- you ask a good question. I thought some time about it.. I think the tactic would depend on the practitioner and the situation -- I think turning to either client/practitioner after the other asks a question without intervening may help direct the other to remember that he's not talking to me but the other person.

Doing my best in making sure each side understands the other is sometimes a way I make the most of a situation if a professional relationship is short termed (i.e. client needs to see a specific doctor only for short term basis).

In case of a more long term relationship I try and gradually speak less as client speaks more. I may encourage/brainstorm with my client before an appointment to address specific issues he raised with me/anticipate practictioner's response so he's better prepared for it.