Values and Agreements During Evaluation/Consultation
Transparency and Open Communication:
If you are preparing to work with Dr. Brown, you have some important questions that you are seeking to answer about yourself or someone that you love.
Dr. Brown often describes herself as “a combination of a geeky brain scientist and a detective.” Evaluation of any kind is, fundamentally, “detective work.”
Therefore, a non-negotiable requirement of Dr. Brown’s process is open access to information about all previous evaluations and current and past interventions. One of the first steps in working with Dr. Brown is for the client and/or legal guardian to sign a Release of Information which allows Dr. Brown to communicate with individuals or institutions that know the client well.
A crucial aspect of the evaluation process for Dr. Brown is developing an understanding of how clients’ issues and functioning vary in response to their environment, the type and level of support, and the context of their interactions with others including within the family. A thorough evaluation requires a sophisticated understanding of the full context of an individual’s life circumstances and the community and family in which they live. Keeping communication open among the family and team protects the integrity of the evaluation process.
Dr. Brown understands that with open communication comes great responsibility to ensure that everyone in the process knows that they will be treated with kindness, compassion, equality, and respect. Dr. Brown is committed to upholding the following values and behavior:
No Judgment: Thoughts, feelings, and behavior are not “good” or “bad”. What we experience or how we respond either “works” or “doesn’t work” for us. Behavior “works” if it helps us get the outcomes we want. Behavior does not work if it causes us to suffer or results in consequences/outcomes that we find undesirable.
Compassion: Being a human being in this world is difficult, both practically and emotionally. We are all always doing the very best we can in each moment, even when we are making mistakes or doing something hurtful to others. Being in relationship with ourselves and others requires deep compassion. We do not judge, criticize, or attack ourselves or others for mistakes or “flaws”. To do so undermines emotional safety and the ability to be open and honest, which is necessary for the process. (Consider reframing : With a compassionate approach towards ourselves and others, we can protect emotional safety and the ability to be open and honest in relationship, which greatly helps the process)
Protection of Information revealed in the process: Everything that is discovered during the process of evaluation must be communicated appropriately and respectfully within the team. Dr. Brown typically speaks/meets with the client, parents, and all team members one-to-one at different points during the process. It is important that each person be given a safe space within which to discuss experiences, concerns, and emotions without having to worry about how others in the family/on the team will respond. Also, it is not necessary for each person to be involved in every conversation that occurs during the course of the evaluation or consultation process. However, the content of these conversations will be brought back to the team as needed and/or included in the written report as appropriate. Clients typically find the process with Dr. Brown to be therapeutic, in part because she focuses on helping individuals look at and talk about difficulties in ways that decrease the specific problematic thought patterns and emotions that have become attached to the situation and relationships.
Dr. Brown will redirect the flow of any conversations or interactions in which someone in the family/on the team is complaining about another for the purpose of assigning blame or attempting to marginalize the other’s role in the process or the family. Conflicts within the family or team are addressed directly and swiftly to ensure the safety and integrity of the process. There is a zero tolerance policy for using information discovered or discussed during the process with Dr. Brown “against” someone else in the family/on the team.
Emotional Neutrality: Being compassionate and non-judgmental requires us to communicate with emotionally neutral language and tone. It is expected that those seeking Dr. Brown’s assistance have experienced frustration, hurt, disappointment, and anger within family relationships. Simply naming the issues and feelings without judgement or blame allows the team to explore concrete solutions and sustainable action plans.
Personal Responsibility: The process of evaluation requires everyone participating in the process to take responsibility for their own feelings and behavior. Discussing challenges and finding solutions with compassion and respect requires everyone to use “I statements.” Starting statements with “I feel,” or some version of that (such as “I am experiencing....,” “I am perceiving that…,” or “I dislike when…”) ensures that we are giving others feedback about what works for us or does not work for us without blaming, criticizing, or being unkind.
Data Based: The process with Dr. Brown is always grounded in observable facts, widely accepted standards of clinical practice, and research based science and medicine. It is critical that conversations, analysis, and decision making are based on facts and not emotions. Information about past behavior and experiences are data points that inform the decision making process; however, our emotions about the past do not hold more weight in the decision making than other pieces of data/evidence. For individuals and families with developmental trauma, often there is anxiety about whether “the person can really change” or whether “this time will really be different.” Dr. Brown invites skepticism and even challenges to her logical thinking and conclusions. She will address your anxiety and concerns with sensitivity and with evidence based explanations.